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Snapshot
The Strypes Snapshot
Released 9 September 2013
Producer Chris Thomas
Label Virgin EMI Records
Length 38:25
Genre Indie rock, blues
Website thestrypes.com
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Depending on how you look at it, The Strypes have been blessed/cursed as the hyped band du jour. BP Fallon introduced them to a packed Electric Arena at Electric Picnic recently as “something special…the most important band in Ireland”, while in the UK the Telegraph described them as “pretenders to The Stones’ crown” after an acclaimed set at Glastonbury. All this after signing a five album deal with Mercury Records, appearing on Later with Jools Holland and soundtracking a particularly ubiquitous ad campaign with a major mobile telephone provider.

That media-buzz propelled Snapshot, The Strypes’ debut, to No. 2 in the Irish charts and No. 3 in the UK, with the band gaining plaudits from every elder statesman of rock worth his salt. Channelling Chicago blues through ‘60s garage rock and R’n’B, the band’s music is best appreciated in a hot, sweaty club, as it was in The Academy recently. Producer Chris Thomas has wisely attempted to capture this raw and ready sound with pared back production values, letting the punchy impact of the songs speak for themselves.

As in the live setting, lead guitarist Josh McClorey proves to be the star of the show, writing the majority of the album’s original material with a definite ear for a Beatlesesque melody. Also Beatlesesque, is his lyrical preoccupation with innocent romantic situations with hometown-girls-next-door types, as well as the fickleness of fame and image pressures from music industry executives – something I’m sure the band knows all about right now. Though far from being the most substantial work committed to tape, these songs sit very favourably with the handful of covers on the album from the likes of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters, especially current single and album highlight, 'What A Shame'. This obvious talent should see McClorey go on to enjoy a lengthy career in music if the hype-machine ends up chewing the band up and spitting it out.

That said, the other band members are no mere passengers. The rhythm section of Evan Walsh (drums) and Peter O’Hanlon (bass) is as tight as Walter White’s post-chemo buzz-cut, while Ross Farrell delivers a prototypical rock’n’roll vocal with fog-horn blasts of harmonica.

These solos act as a good counterpoint to McClorey’s squalls of lead guitar. Though undoubtedly an excellent guitarist, sometimes you can’t help but wish he’d take a hint from one of his obvious role models, George Harrison, and go with a simple melodic guitar line instead of yet more guitar-hero histrionics, as on ‘Angel Eyes’.

The Strypes are due to support Arctic Monkeys on their UK and European tour. The Cavan boys would do well to pick up some pointers from Alex Turner and co. on how to navigate being the new teenage guitar-band sensations. There’s a great album hiding in them somewhere so here’s hoping they’ll keep their feet on the ground, avoid the backlash and go on to deliver at least one for that five album deal. For now, we’ll have to make do with this exhilarating snapshot of where they are now with maybe more of a panoramic view to come.

- Cian Doherty