Review: The Strypes – Snapshot
Published on September 12th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Hands up, we were duped by The Strypes, including “What a Shame” in our round-up of this week’s best singles. Listening to their debut album Snapshot, “what a shame” might as well serve as our review.
Their name should have been a clue; ‘The (insert arbitrarily misspelled word here)s’. White Stripes? No, The Strypes. Unless there’s a damn good story behind it, it’s one of the most cynically targeted band names in history.
Yes, “What a Shame” sounded like a blast of fresh air in isolation…”Arctic Monkeys by way of early Beatles…a brilliantly lyrical blast of rock and roll energy with the melodic inflections to justify it all”, that’s what this writer said.
What a shame, then, that the whole of Snapshot follows the precise same formula, one ‘Arctic Monkeys if they existed in 1963’ imagination after another. Polished, but so sickeningly contrived that it feels almost Orwellian in its repression.
Oh look, they’re on Virgin EMI. Get the kids hooked on the sounds of the sixties then flog them a load of old reissues, right? Just like with Jake Bugg. Ace.
It’s a clever ploy, we’ll give it/them that. And hey, if it gets kids listening to The Beatles, it might ultimately wind up as a positive.
But then that’s not the point at all, is it? Just PR the shit out of flimsy tribute acts, line the pockets, get to work on the next one. Hey, what if Kings of Leon were The Beach Boys? Ker-ching!
It galls yours truly to be party to that age-old journalistic cliché of “build ’em up, knock ’em down”, let alone all in the space of a single week. This is just plain old honesty.
“What a Shame” seemed smart, energetic and a palatable alternative to the reams of NME-endorsed nonsense that continue to spew forth from major labels with perfunctory precision. “There you go kids, get stuck into that lot.”
Had it been woven into a patchwork of even vaguely different styles, the unremitting retro-ness mightn’t have felt so suffocating.
One song after the other, though, it’s a game of I Spy, or at least the aural equivalent thereof. “I spy with my little, er, ear something beginning with ‘harmonica solo from ‘Love Me Do'”.
“I hear – yes, that’s better – with my little ear something beginning with ‘bass line from ‘I Saw Her Standing There'”.
The Strypes even have the front to sing “I wonder secretly how I see what the people don’t see” on one faceless number. You see nothing, The Strypes. You are a tribute act and nothing more.
Another track is titled “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover”. In this instance, you can, and Rocksucker feels a little sordid not to have done so immediately.
Bullshit was there to be called, but we fell for it. Taken in. Used, abused, cheapened, just like those dressed-up children adorning the album cover.
‘The Strypes’…The Trypes, more like. The wannabe Archetypes. Arf.
If you like The Strypes, you either work in PR or are as gullible as sin. They get one quail for inducing a strong emotional reaction, that’s it.
Snapshot is indeed a snapshot of our times, and it’s a damning one. One more anti-evolutionary slap in the face to music as an art form.
Snapshot is out now on Virgin EMI Records.
Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!