A few days after The Thin White Duke passed, image man John Bull and I were up at the Garage in London to see the Strypes and hear their new material. They strode on, plugged in and burst – I mean burst – into Rebel, Rebel . The room went crazy. That number dispatched the group proceeded to run through a mix of brand new material and a few older favourites. Now this outfit do not mess about. As will be clear from our previous pieces on and our Q and A with the group, they have gone straight back to the punchiest acts of the 60s and 70s for inspiration then added their own stories based on their contemporary life. They have a great presence, a fine cohesive sound and best of all, they sound like they mean it..unlike so many attention-seeking poseur acts trumpeted by media dopes. How many spotlight moths do we need? And almost always these championed outfits have hopeless lead singers. Not so, The Strypes…..
First cut Behind Closed Doors bashes its way into earshot over a fuzz guitar riff, the song has a touch of The Undertones and The Jam, known influences on the group. Neat chorus tone on the guitar tumbles. Excellent clear vocals and a snappy tune.
Consequence could be vintage Flamin’ Groovies at the start and another well-constructed number with bits of Question Mark organ here and there. (I Need A Break From) Holidays is a briskly-delivered and here’s that time-tunnel organ over a stabbing beat and sheets of flanging. Can it get more garage band than this? Maybe a nod to Ray Davies?
Grin And Bear It is all chiming guitar and crisp beat, likely a twelve-string..hope they do this live. Very ‘street’ suburban life lyric. Easy Rider employs a mutated Motown beat on a Squeeze style song, very well played and sung. Josh lead singer I think. Great Expectations is a softer composition with acoustic guitar and Faces instrumentation, they do this sort of song really well. This one does stay in your head and has echoes of Mott and Thin Lizzy, to these ears. Sharp guitar solo and horn section, showing the outfit off as pro’s.
Garden Of Eden is a collaboration with Ethan Johns and from distant police sirens this psych piece takes the listener somewhere else, sonically. The harp slivers have a ghostly effect against the fast-tremelo’d guitar spikes and grinding backdrop. A few drops of Iron Butterfly infest this one ; A Different Kind Of Tension uses the harp on a fast choppy song with a New Wave feel. Addictive melody and one of the best inclusions on this collection. Get It Over Quickly is emphatic modern R&B with more down to earth words. The electric piano works fine and I am reminded of The Raspberries, no bad thing….
Turnin’ My Back turns up the pace on a punchy tune which is another high point of the set. What powerful drumming! Up there with The Stranglers’ best. Black Shades Over Red Eyes is steady bluesy piece with an insistent pulse and a strong chorus and a hint of early Van, I venture. Mama Give Me Order is acoustic, reflective. The set wraps up with Oh Cruel World on a 6/8 tempo, raspy harp with reverb providing atmosphere.
A high-quality bunch of varied songs with endless different tones and sounds embellishing street-poetry set to music. A lot of folk including crucially their contemporaries relate to this sort of material and the muscle behind it. No wonder!