Release Date: Sep 9, 2013
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Strypes' unlikely combination of teens playing music inspired by pub rock and the blues drew equal amounts of hype and goodwill from a constellation of rock stars. Before they even released their debut album, they'd signed to Elton John's management company, toured with the Arctic Monkeys, played with Paul Weller, and counted Roger Daltrey, Dave Grohl, and Noel Gallagher as fan club members. This who's-who of support, and Snapshot itself, often feel like a last-ditch effort to get 21st century kids into rock instead of the rap, dance, and pop that captured their imagination (and the charts).
Watching The Strypes perform, you’re struck by a worrying thought that these four Irish teens have been body-snatched by a band of hoary old pub rockers. On record, happily, they sound their age. Debut album ‘Snapshot’ sees the band stomp through a dozen tunes in 35 minutes, guitars squealing impressively and harmonicas wailing throughout. It’s bread and butter blues-rock, packed with lyrical anachronisms and clichés, but it’s done well and – importantly – is not as shamelessly retro as those covers-packed live shows.
The Strypes are making quite a noise these days. The four-piece from Cavan, Ireland, may still be in their mid teens but they are hardly novices, having already built up a reputation for their energetic live shows over the last five years, attracting much media attention and celebrity endorsements from musicians like Jeff Beck, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher and the Arctic Monkeys, who they will be supporting on their forthcoming arena tour. But what makes the band unusual is not their youth but the fact that they are saturated in the music of the 60s British blues-rock explosion, especially The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things and Them (as well as the black American rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues artists who inspired them, like Chuck Berry and Howlin’ Wolf).
The Strypes don't say much in interviews, but one thing they articulate quite clearly is that they couldn't care less what anyone no longer a teenager thinks of them. Call them derivative – which they are, in a third-hand way, a rehash of the nostalgic 1970s pub-rock rehash of 1950s/60s R&B – and they will shrug and say rock'n'roll was ever thus. They're right, of course, but if anyone is going to choose to listen to their albums over Bo Diddley's they're going to have to learn something fundamental about R&B fast.
You'd think Miley Cyrus' sudden reinvention as a lurid wet pop dream that should really only exist in the mind of Gene Simmons is about as cynical as it gets. Alas, the former Hannah Montana ain't got nothin' on The Strypes, a band of Savile Row-suited tykes who seemingly stumbled upon their parents’ record collection and decided to give it a go. Any related literature tends to focus quite heavily on their age, so let’s get that one out of that way quickly - they’re young.
The Strypes Snapshot (Island/Def Jam) Snapshot resets rock & roll with four Irish teenagers eradicating all cynicism. Once the needle drops on the opening feedback storms of "Mystery Man," the Sixties R&B of the Pretty Things, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Who filters through 1977 punk via loud perfection by Sex Pistols producer Chris Thomas. Strypes originals like "Blue Collar Jane" demonstrate their knowhow in applying blues forms to modern living.
Children dressed in suits are not cute. They’ don’t look ‘grown up’, they look creepy. Unless they’re off to a funeral or alternatively a court appearance, for pre-teens to look like the Blues Brothers gone Benjamin Button is, well, odd. And although The Strypes might well have seen through at least some of what puberty bestows, standing there in their strangely immaculate suits, bowl haircuts and whiskerless pout, they’re more like a strange seaside waxwork than a band.Even weirder, maybe, is the idea that their retro-rock of the kind that sounds like it thinks Jet was a Really Good Idea, is supposed to be the antithesis of boyband worship.