The Strypes - Almost True EP
by Liam Heatherson
The Strypes are an Irish rock and roll band who seek authenticity over popularity. However, this has both made and challenged their music career; a nod to the stoicism of their musical passion. Describing themselves loosely as ‘garage rockers’, they have made an impact on the UK rock scene through rhythm and blues, indie rock, punk, and recently power pop in their summer album Spitting Image, inspired by the late 1970s’ new wave scene. This sets them apart from other artists at present, because their music is built from the ground up. Their understanding of music history’s roots through to an appreciation and attentiveness for their current peers presents the band as the real deal – something that the alternative scene often lacks today. Their youthful and ultra-tight musical footprint deserves all the attention it can get.
It was back in August 2013 that The Strypes tore down the local pub only a few streets from my house in an extremely intimate and explosive set, featuring an appearance from idol and nearby-resident Wilko Johnson. A month later following the release of their top-ten debut album Snapshot, I was witnessing them support the Arctic Monkeys at Earls Court, London, to a crowd of 20,000 people. Their savage back-to-basics pub rock gave them their debut place at number five. Its reactionary nature against indirect ‘indie’ guitar-music proved that the sounds preached by the Rolling Stones back in 1963 still had potential to rouse audiences worldwide in 2013. The Strypes ethos of ‘if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it’ gives their very distinct music a timeless appeal. Despite this, their 2015 follow up Little Victories saw record label Virgin attempt to control what made them great, and convert them into something more mainstream. Their most recent album Spitting Image, released this June, gladly saw the band taking their music into their own hands. Whilst it arguably could have done more to convey the sheer energy of their live performances, the album showcased a now extremely refined band who knew both how to create and deliver music. Going it alone meant that this album’s release did not have as much commercial success as previous. However, The Strypes are well aware of this potential trade-off and they made the right decision. Setting their bar high in 2013 at only sixteen years of age was not an easy challenge for the band, and their resilience and understanding of the grind ahead has kept the band recording and touring relentlessly since.
Almost True, released on October the 27th, is a follow up EP to their Spitting Image album. One could argue that it encapsulates everything that makes the band great; both in their ability to craft timeless pop tunes down to the explosive energy of their live rock and roll spectacle. The first track on the record, How Could I Forget?, blisters in with an extremely punchy drum roll from Evan Walsh. This song has a classic power pop sound – very powerful indeed. Whilst the rhythm section leads the song, the vocals and guitar suit the glazed nostalgic lyrical content of the track. Ross Farrelly’s strong voice roars a pseudo-American accent; hopefully more Elvis Costello than Green Day. Regardless, it perfectly suits the song’s hook which dominates the outro. The next track is again an instant hit; Heavenly Soul. Its opening is dark and distressed in nature, yet again the rhythm section and punky guitars from Josh McClorey pushes the driving force of the track forward. Part way through, trademark harmonica rips through alongside a drum solo. The Strypes can quite successfully make it easier to rock out to a harp than an overdriven guitar. Their third track is potentially the biggest tune on the EP; Freckle and Burn. It alternates between a metal-ish guitar and drum melody to a soulful off-beat accompanied by catchy and assured vocals. The hook is incredible; with a climatic riff akin to Jumping Jack Flash on steroids. The second half changes to an arty dream-like sequence reminiscent of Squeeze’s Cool for Cats, before the tune double-times into a memorable rock and pop madness. The final track is a nod to their rock and roll roots; a cover of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues released way back in 1958. This song has been covered countless times over the past half a century, yet their version still fills a gap. It is everything a cover should be – an intelligent interpretation. The track’s guitar shows versatility alongside the other tracks, using both rapid soloing simultaneously with Steve Jones-esque punk power chords and incessant muted droning. It leaves you exhausted; a perfect storm of their live energy best demonstrated by bassist Pete O’Hanlon.
All in all the EP deserves more attention when considering its certain ability to convert anyone to their anthem. Go out and give it a listen on iTunes, Spotify, or Soundcloud; The Strypes are rock and roll connoisseurs.