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Review: Spitting Image (The Strypes)

The Strypes return with maturity beyond their years on ‘Spitting Image’

2015’s Little Victories was a strange effort,  and when it was good, it was very good. However at times there was an inescapable feeling that the band were attempting to force a sense of musical maturity. Thankfully that issue has been comprehensively addressed within 30 seconds of intro track ‘Behind Closed Doors’

Guitarist Josh McClorey was culpable of over-indulging at times on past efforts, but the simplistic and melodic riff of the opening number sets a marker for the rest of the album.

Produced by Ethan Johns, (son of Rolling Stones/Beatles studio giant, Glyn) the record has a consummately vintage feel. Reverberated vocals and guitars soaked in chorus create a bold new sound for the Cavan four piece. ‘Spitting Image’ has taken the bands wonderfully unkempt rawness and added a layer of sheen, thankfully without smothering the explosiveness.

‘Consequences’ and ‘Grin and Bear it’ further ingrain the idea that this is like no other Strypes effort. The rhythm section of Pete O’Hanlon and Evan Walsh contributed far more on this record than its predecessors, and it shows. The tracks featured have a effervescent sense of new life about them, bassist O’Hanlon expressed how the writing process was distinctly different “there’s been a big change with the sound, in that myself and Evan have written half of it. We have a little demo facility at home, which we were holed up in for a few months, and just knocked out 20 or 30 songs, just worked off each other’s ideas.”

The instrumentation featured on single ‘Great Expectations’ is stellar. The inclusion of an acoustic guitar and keys is yet again another first for the band, this coupled with an uber radio friendly chorus leads to a finely poised and balanced song. It may be the highlight of the record. And it has a sax solo, a fucking sax solo. Bravo lads.

The exploration of new musical avenues continues on the murky ‘Garden of Eden’. A dark 5 minutes complete with seedy sampled sirens and menacing guitar/bass doubling is another stand out track, ‘Turnin’ My Back’ is your classic Strypes song, punchy, upbeat, and melodic with an arresting chorus. Rather surprisingly, the boys have included a thoroughly enjoyable acoustic track towards the albums finale, ‘Mama Give Me Order’ is a great track and one that would’ve stood out like a sore thumb on the two previous records, however this affable change of pace on ‘Spitting Image’ allows the groups wonderful musicianship to flourish in more ways than one.

Guitarist McClorey recently featured on Paul Weller’s new album ‘A Kind Revolution’, a fact that is rather interesting when listening through these 13 tracks. There is a distinctly vintage air permeating through the sonic formation of ‘Spitting Image’ – there is a clear and welcome influence taken from the likes of The Jam and other late 70’s groups. The Strypes have always been a revival of a lost art in a way, and this album is continuing the trend. This is an organic musical coming of age, and in spectacular fashion.

‘Spitting Image’ is available now, both online and in all good record shops.