The Strypes

Snapshot

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

The Strypes' unlikely combination of teens playing music inspired by pub rock and the blues drew equal amounts of hype and goodwill from a constellation of rock stars. Before they even released their debut album, they'd signed to Elton John's management company, toured with the Arctic Monkeys, played with Paul Weller, and counted Roger Daltrey, Dave Grohl, and Noel Gallagher as fan club members. This who's-who of support, and Snapshot itself, often feel like a last-ditch effort to get 21st century kids into rock instead of the rap, dance, and pop that captured their imagination (and the charts). Regardless of the hype and hopes surrounding the album, it reveals that the Strypes love and are well-versed in the sounds of British blues-rock, pub rock, and the blues musicians who started it all. However, this studious nature is a blessing and a curse: the band knows how to make three chords crackle, and they're just as tight, if not tighter, than players with decades more practice -- witness Ross Farrelly's harmonica solo on "Blue Collar Jane" or Josh McClorey's guitar work on "What the People Don't See" and "Heart of the City" -- but they often feel too reverent of the past to give these songs the grit they need. This is especially true on their covers of Bo Diddley's "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover" and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' & Tumblin'," both of which feel more like enthusiastic simulations than genuine performances. This may be due in part to the production by Chris Thomas (who also worked with the Beatles and the Sex Pistols). While Snapshot's sound isn't slick, it lacks in-the-red realness that makes the Strypes' more recent elders like the Black Keys and Jack White so riveting at their best. And while the band may shrug off Beatles comparisons, the boyish energy with which they bound through these songs evokes a particularly well-recorded night at the Cavern Club. Like the Fab Four during that time, the Strypes sound the most confident on their own songs. There's a bit of a young Liam Gallagher's sneer to Farrelly's voice on "Perfect Storm" (no wonder the band recruited him after hearing his version of "Wonderwall"), and he sounds anything but timid despite his complaints on "Hometown Girls." Elsewhere, the Strypes flex their songwriting chops on "What a Shame," where tightly coiled verses unleash bashed-out choruses. Snapshot might be more successful at reassuring rock fans of a certain age that some young people find sounds three or four times older than them exciting than it is at getting kids excited about bluesy rock. Taken on its own terms, though, it's a solid debut from a band that can only benefit from more experience.

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