Strawberry Switchblade

Strawberry Switchblade

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Depending on what mood the listener is in, the lightweight pop of Strawberry Switchblade's self-titled debut album can be sickeningly coy or irresistibly charming. Featuring Rose McDowall (guitar, vocals, harmony vocals) and Jill Bryson (guitar, vocals, harmony vocals), Strawberry Switchblade sound like two little girls enraptured and enraged by their first crushes; those with no tolerance for this innocuous stuff will immediately bolt for the exits. But Strawberry Switchblade shouldn't be flogged for being too cute; accepted for what it is, the album is a toothsome collection of new wave bubblegum. McDowall and Bryson have pretty voices; they blend together wondrously. The lyrics reflect an adolescent perspective on love and heartbreak. On "Go Away," the girls sing about a boy who used one of them for sex and then split; there is a heavy sadness in their vocals that shatters the LP's fa├žade of innocence. "Who Knows What Love Is?" is a winsome tale of longing. In the mid-'80s, synthesizers were still in fashion in the new wave scene, and keyboards are bouncing all over Strawberry Switchblade, especially on "Let Her Go." However, there is darkness lurking within Strawberry Switchblade's candy-flavored melodies. Never has a band sounded so sweet while being so bummed out.

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