Stroppies

Whoosh!

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After releasing a couple of strong, home-cooked, and charmingly lo-fi records, Stroppies decided to see if their small sound would work in a larger studio setting. They took two days to lay down as much as they could in a professional environment, then took the tapes home to work on the songs some more. After a long period of fooling around, adding and subtracting sounds, and almost driving themselves crazy with self-doubt, the band decided they were done and 2019's Whoosh! was the result. Any traces of doubt the listener might have about whether Stroppies could be as good with a fresh coat of mid-fi paint applied should be dispelled right away on the opening track, "Nothing at All," a joyful, up-tempo rambler that has a lived-in feel, spiky jangle, and breezy lightness. It sounds like a slightly more focused and hooky version of what they were doing before; the band didn't lose any of their knockabout looseness or warm-hearted camaraderie in the process. In fact, along with the tightened-up structures and streamlined sound, the new elements they add to the arrangements serve the songs perfectly. The acoustic and 12-string electric guitars help fill out the sound, the keyboards are used sparingly but effectively, and the vocals come through much more clearly. The extra time and care spent with the sound gave them the impetus to stretch beyond the ramshackle, straightforward pop of the past and take some chances. "The Spy" is a swinging '60s rocker with jokey lyrics and an insouciant attitude, "Entropy" is a electric piano-led soft rock gem that sounds like a low-budget Donald Fagen playing music for a spooky suspense film, and most impressively, "Cellophane Car" is a super-hooky track that sounds like classic major-label Chills and lasts for more than five glorious minutes of giant choruses, twangled guitar solos, and ballpark organ. It's the kind of song Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever had on their breakthrough record from 2018; with any justice in the world, this song should take Stroppies in their footsteps. Even if it doesn't, Whoosh is still a great record -- one of the best Flying Nun wannabe albums of the late 2010s and a joy from start to finish, despite what the band may think.

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