The Mods have found a new voice; aged 18.
A group which would seem just as at home playing Shea Stadium in 1966 as they would at Glastonbury 2013, the Strypes are a band which seems truly cross-generational.
Formed in 2011 the band has spent their time to date honing and perfecting their authentic rhythm and blues sound; sharpening their lyrics, their melodies and their stage presence to a deathly enjoyable point.
Hailing from Cavan, Ireland, the group is formed of Ross Farrelly (lead vocals/harmonica), Josh McClorey (lead guitar/vocals), Pete O’Hanlon (bass guitar/harmonica) and Evan Walsh (drums) the youngest of whom is just 16 years old, the eldest clocking in at a death-defying 18.
For such a young band, stardom, critical acclaim and, perhaps most importantly, true talent, seems to be right on their doorsteps.
The opening track of the album, ‘Mystery Man’, is a punchy, energetic starter for the group and gives the listener a vibrant toe-tapping taster of what’s to come. It’s only when the second track begins, ‘Blue Collar Jane’ that the fun really starts; the tune is heavily influenced by sounds such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many other similarly talented artistes of the era and this song would fit into the repertoire of any such group. What the young group has done so masterfully is they’ve written a song which is transcendent of time; a true distillation of their influences into something entirely new and exciting: as thrilling today as it may well have been when their musical forefathers were going in the late fifties and early sixties.
What follows this is a harmonica fuelled post-blues number entitled ‘What The People Don’t See’ which opens an entirely new dynamic to the group; more in the style of Oasis, if Oasis were anywhere near this good in their prime.
Following this, we have a trifecta of ridiculously catchy songs, ‘She’s So Fine’, ‘Around & Around’ and ‘Bad Boy’, all of which make for incredibly enjoyable listening. Farrelly’s vocal work is amazing, especially for one so young and the group plays a tight backing
for such clever lyrics as
“Well I know a little girl who likes to keep her tail up high,
You know she’s got a weapon and a method to make you cry,
Because she float like a bee but she sting like a butterfly.”
(‘She’s So Fine’)
‘Around & Around’ really brings the Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry influences of the group the forefront of the listener’s mind and one can’t help but recall the sheer guttural enjoyment of such early blues numbers that this song seeks so desperately to emulate. The astounding thing about it is: it almost succeeds – something no new band has been able to do since the Arctic Monkey’s first broke onto the scene.
When the group slows down with the road-house ready, blues heavy song, ‘Angel Eyes’ it’s a welcome retreat from the pulse-pounding tunes heard previously. The song is a welcome breather while simultaneously being a treat in terms of impressive musicality from the entire group. Once again Farrelly is gob-smackingly impressive on the vocal line while Josh McClorey plays lead guitar parts players twice his age can only dream of perfecting. At this point in the album it’s perfectly natural for the audience to wonder if the group is really as young as they claim to be. Surely a group so young can’t be this talented?
Annoyingly enough for all musicians, the band is genuine and distressingly good.
The second half of the album isn’t quite as enjoyable after ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’; however, it’s no less enjoyable. The tunes do, however, pale in comparison to the earlier belters we heard previously.
When all is said and done, The Strypes seem to be a band on the up and up and they’ll surely be ones to watch within the new year. This début was thoughtfully composed, knowingly played and clearly enjoyed by all involved. The proof’s in the pudding that everyone that’s heard it struggles to find something wrong with it.
The bio on the band’s website states: “Having already been met with critical acclaim from greats such as Jeff Beck and Paul Weller and been tipped by NME as the No. 1 new band to watch, it seems things can only get better for The Strypes.” This reviewer is inclined to agree.