The Strypes ‘Snapshot’ – Review

21 Oct

The Strypes have been making a name for themselves recently, and their fearsome reputation is entirely down to their live shows. They’re young men who dress sharply and play established classics with energy and authenticity. At times they have resembled little more (or should that be nothing less?) than a very good tribute act (It really isn’t easy to do what they do so well). Capturing that live enthusiasm on record was always going to be difficult and The Strypes have fallen into a typical trap. The songs may well have been recorded live but like many modern recordings they sound too perfect, too polished and too airtight. Where are the imperfections? Where is the grime and reverb that gave colour to the original recordings?

‘Snapshot’ was produced by the man who is arguably the greatest English producer of all time, Chris Thomas, but he was a bizarre choice. Thomas is brilliant at producing polished pop rock bands (He’s worked with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols and most recently Mystery Jets) which is exactly what The Strypes aren’t. Their raw, shambolic sound needs to be captured in a frenzied live environment – not in a science lab.

And yet, and yet… The covers are all note perfect, and the new songs are difficult to distinguish from the old songs. This suggests a promising future if the band ever decide to do an entire album of fresh material. ‘Blue Collar Jane’ offers bluesy riffs and a memorable melody whilst ‘What a Shame’ sees singer Pete O’Hanlon taking on Alex Turner (circa 2005) in the clever-dick game. His snarky, observational cultural commentary may be over-cooked but it’s appropriately ambitious/cocky stuff coming from the lips of a 16-year-old.

None of the covers can hold a light to the originals (although I might just prefer their energetic and crude take on ‘Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover’), or offer alternative insights, which makes ‘Snapshot’ an enjoyable, but rather redundant, album. As a band however, The Strypes seem like genuine contenders and it would be foolish to condemn them so early in their career. Enjoyable but not yet essential.

5/10

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