It’s 36 minutes long, and starts with a burst of feedback. These are two promising signs before we even get into the first song, ‘Mystery Man’.
But first we need to take a step back. The Strypes are this year’s Great Saviours Of The Music Industry: four Irish teenagers who sound like early 60s garage rockers, or alternatively pub rockers in their early 60s, depending on your point of view. After months of positive write-ups, well-reviewed gigs and TV appearances, the real acid test has come with arrival of their debut, ‘Snapshot’.
The good news is, they haven’t disappointed. In a similar vein to Miles Kane’s ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, this album starts at full speed and hardly stops for breath (although The Strypes’ influences are a good 5-10 years’ older than Kane’s). Songs such as the aforementioned ‘Mystery Man’ and the single ‘Blue Collar Jane’ rattle along with all the energy of the early Stones hits, or indeed the old-school bluesmen who influenced the Stones themselves.
The Strypes have been very open about their inspiration, and it’s impossible to escape the fact that there’s pretty much nothing on this album that hasn’t been heard (and done better) elsewhere. In fact, the band are so in thrall to their heroes that they’re happy to fill out the track listing with cover versions of the likes of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Nick Lowe; it’s probably been a good 40 years since it was deemed credible to include other artists’ songs on your album. They get away with it though, due to the sheer energy and passion with which they blast through every track.
Without some good prior knowledge (or a bit of googling) in fact, you’d be hard pushed to pick out the covers from the original songs here. ‘Hometown Girls’, with its cry of “I’m too shy for the hometown girls’ would be the perfect accompaniment to a night out in a sweaty dive bar, with ‘Angel Eyes’ soundtracking the ensuing hangover.
Originality is hugely important in music, however when you hear a group who are clearly enjoying themselves as much as The Strypes are, it would take a real curmurdgeon not be able to smile along with them. Perhaps the most exciting thing about ‘Snapshot’ is that, given that most of the band aren’t yet old enough to get served in the kind of venue which best fits their music, it won’t be until around albums three or four that things start to get really interesting.