Stroppies

The Stroppies

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The Stroppies feature members of Dick Diver, Twerps, the Stevens, and Blank Statements, and their first release sounds exactly like a combination of all those bands, with lo-fi production and sparse instrumentation led by jangling guitars and vintage organ, and scrappy melodies and vocals shorn of any adornments. There are seven songs made for Flying Nun fans, Bats lovers, and Clean devotees, along with fans of their respective bands. That said, there's something special about the combination of writers, players, and singers here that helps make the record more than just a derivative side gig. Everyone brought their best self to the process, from the writing to the recording, and the result is something that stands with the best work of their contemporaries and would have fit snugly on the Flying Nun roster in 1985. Singling out tracks for special mention is a futile exercise, since they all are equally impressive. The arrangements are perfectly done, sparse but not spare, Stephanie Hughes and Angus Lord's vocals are deadpan but oddly affecting, and the songs all have tender hooks that bring up all sort of sneaky feelings. Lots of people think you need to go big to bring the feels, but the Stroppies prove seven times that you can bring them just as easily by going small. "Courtesy Calls," for example, manages to strike a deep chord of melancholy, but through a wistful organ melody and a simple chorus that doesn't soar but instead burrows deeply. They do this kind of small magic across all seven songs to varying degrees, just like the bands they so admire did. With this one brief record, the Stroppies break all the hearts while taking their place near at the head of the post-Nun class.

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