Monday 21 May 2012

Strawberry Whiplash - Hits In The Car

Album review by KevW

If you happen to share a love of bubblegum pop, jangly guitar bands, shoegaze and indie, you're likely to get excited by the same bands as Strawberry Whiplash. On this debut album the Scots have rifled through your record collection, cherry-picked the best bits, discarded the chaff and distilled it all into a handy pocket-sized package. 'Hits In The Car' is a thrilling whistle stop joyride through your favourite genres and your most treasured bands, executed in a way that renders the skip button obsolete. It's all very well making records that sound like your heroes, but the general outcome is a watered down version that serves as little more than a reminder of how great the source material was, but not always, and not in this instance.

To throw in a few names for comparison you could say that 'Now I Know It's You' lifts its out-of-focus, drifting backing from The Radio Dept., 'You Make Me Shine' is basically a reworking of The Jesus & Mary Chain's 'Sometimes Always' and you won't get to the end of the album without thinking of The Primitives or Lush. You could mention a dozen other indiepop luminaries past and present but the winning formula here is the lack of padding that may be the result of the record's lengthy creation. This sounds like a greatest hits, not a debut. Only a brace of songs break the three minute mark. There isn't time to get bored and you couldn't if you tried; each song sparkles briefly, fading away just soon enough to leave you wanting more.

Strawberry Whiplash's magpie approach to making music seems down to a genuine passion for recreating the sounds they love rather than a lack of ideas. In fact you couldn't possibly claim that this album is entirely bereft of originality, as while the sounds may be borrowed, it's the band's own melodies that are the life-blood of these songs. From The Shangri-Las to Blondie to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, the combination of classic sounding tunes, glistening-yet-restrained production and the knack of knowing when enough is enough have thrown up some shining examples of pop sensibility combined with a fundamental understanding of what pop music is all about. If any of your record collection has been mentioned above then 'Hits In The Car' is an essential purchase.

Strawberry Whiplash's website

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