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THE STROPPIES

The Stroppies

Levity

    RIYL: Guided by Voices, Pavement, The Clean, XTC, Flying Nun

    The title of The Stroppies' newest LP, Levity, serves as a creative statement of intent and an acknowledgment of the dichotomy between the music they have made and the conditions in which they were produced. For a group that started over an initial idea to "create open ended music, quickly and haphazardly”, the logistical challenges of creating their second album in the midst of a pandemic, in a city that endured the longest lockdown in the world, created a need to redefine process.

    Levity, The Stroppies strongest creative statement to date, is the result of this new approach to creative process. Playful yet focused, but broader in scope and experimentation than previous efforts, the ten songs that comprise Levity continue the band's exploration of the pop song as both foil for experimentation and conduit for personal reflection.

    Whereas the group's debut LP Whoosh! demonstrated their ability to craft clean, concise jangle pop, Levity takes a different route by utilizing a darker pallet of sounds to create its impressionistic whole. Fuzz and distortion are employed to add weight to songs built on tape loops and Motorik drum patterns. Warbling synthesisers and modulated keys add new moods and dimensions to The Stroppies unique brand of pop classicism. Thematically, the band continues their exploration of the personal refracted through the lens of the absurd, though this time around the music feels a few shades darker, a somewhat inevitable consequence of the collective trauma of the past 24 months. The songs still hit with the immediacy that made their debut so engaging, but there’s a creeping cynicism and wistfulness that now permeates The Stroppies sound.

    While the narrative around the 'lockdown record' is increasingly commonplace, there are unavoidable realities involved in making creative decisions under such circumstances that can't be overlooked, especially for a band that thrives on collaboration. "The restrictions around COVID really informed the way we made the record', says Angus Lord, the band's co-founder and guitarist. "It meant that there was a lot less opportunity to meet and build ideas collaboratively, which is how we’ve worked in the past. Instead, ideas were developed in isolation, then shared digitally, developing slowly over correspondence and only bearing fruit when we were able to be in a room together. I think this had a big effect on the songwriting and execution.” This process even extended to the studio, where The Stroppies found a kindred spirit in John Lee of Phaedra Studios, who mixed the record in isolation, somehow managing to synthesise the band's pop sensibilities with their penchant for studio experimentation. Furthermore, the addition of new member Zoe Monk, known for playing in a diverse array of Melbourne acts (Eggy, Thibault, The Opals) contributed both synthesiser experimentation and rock solid rhythm guitar, a huge addition to the band's developing sound, an infectious combination of the off-kilter 90s US underground, British artpunk ala Wire and a more than generous love of classic Pop songwriting.

    Reflecting on the making of the record, bassist and co-vocalist Claudia Serfaty understands their shift in approach, noting that, “the world feels strange and in turn making pop music feels even stranger. A healthy dose of levity had to be employed in order to find meaning in the process.” In spite of this light hearted attitude, The Stroppies have managed to craft a record of weight and substance.Through Levity the Stroppies have, at least temporarily, found their feet amongst the chaos..

    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Perfect Crime (04:40)
    2. Smilers Strange Politely (02:49)
    3. Material Condition (05:24)
    4. Butchering The Punchline (02:07)
    5. Up To My Elbows (03:28)
    6. I’m In The Water (03:51)
    7. Tricks On Everything (02:33)
    8. Caveats (03:06)
    9. Figure Eights (02:57)
    10. The Bell (02:08)

    The Stroppies

    Look Alive!

      Originally starting as the DIY home recording project of Angus Lord and Claudia Serfaty, The Stroppies have now evolved into what some might call a “proper band”. Following on from their 2017 demo cassette and a sling of singles, 2019 saw the release of their debut LP Whoosh!, a studio-based affair that evolved The Stroppies sound, underpinned with a newly discovered melodic classicism. Look Alive!, their latest effort which was recorded only months after the bands return to Australia after their second European tour of 2019, represents a marriage of the two different styles of Stroppies recordings and rounds out an incredibly productive twelve months for the group. Look Alive! Is the sound of The Stroppies honing their craft under new and unfamiliar conditions.


      Written mainly on the road then finished and recorded at home with whatever was on hand with only three of the four members present, it is according to the band’s singer/guitarist Angus Lord, "an EP forged in circumstance. A sum total of fleeting vignettes on scraps of paper, voice memos and iPhone notepads all collated between soundchecks and long stretches in a tour van rolled pieced together over weekly jams. We didn't want to waste much time when we got home so we opted to record it ourselves". For a band who began with the initial idea to create what the band called “open-ended music, collaged quickly and pieced haphazardly together”, it is in some sense a return to their true self. If Whoosh! glimmered and sparkled with tight production and succinct pop songwriting, Look Alive! is a somewhat darker shade, employing a more diffuse, impressionistic sonic palette and a more obvious penchant for experimentation.


      Tracked by the band and long time friend/collaborator Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, The Stevens, Hobbies Galore) at home and then mixed and mastered direct off the tape at Phaedra studios in Coburg by John Lee, it’s also a somewhat collaborative project, drawing in influence and inspiration from myriad sources. Such means of production are evident in the resulting eight songs. The title track sees acoustic pianos duel with synthesizers over Pavement-esque guitar wig outs, whilst ‘The Aisles of the Supermarket’ employs tape loops to forge loose ambient foundations. Though these ideas may reflect the band’s noted “stream of consciousness creativity”, remarkably the songwriting remains as sharp as ever. Album opener ‘Burning Bright’ gallops forward with the propulsive energy of ‘77-era Talking Heads and is transported by a casually brilliant chorus delivered by shared vocalist Claudia Sefraty.


      Elsewhere, lead single ‘Holes In Everything’ presents the band at its pop best: "If I could disappear into the atmosphere, I would be around you all the time" sings Lord, before swiftly throwing shade on the sentiment in the chorus, "It's always frightening what I think". It's this penchant for push and pull of light and dark splashed against the backdrop of trepidation and humour that make The Stroppies records so endearing and open-ended. Though undeniably pop structure orientated, the bands propensity for re-inventing and re-appropriating their recording and writing process ensures that nothing starts to fossilize. Indeed, Look Alive! is that most intriguing of records precisely because it represents two ideas at the same time - the sound of a band in flux, but also the sound of a band becoming more sure footed as they walk their crooked line.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Burning Bright
      2. Look Alive
      3. Sad Sorry Soul
      4. Roller Cloud
      5. Holes In Everything
      6. The Aisles Of The Supermarket
      7. Enter Or Exit
      8. Rigid Men And Conduct Codes

      The Stroppies

      The Stroppies - Repress

        Starting out as a recording project between Angus Lord, Claudia Serfaty and Stephanie Hughes, the germ of what would eventually become the Stroppies was formed around a kitchen table in Melbourne's inner west early 2016. The initial idea was to create open ended music, collaged quickly and haphazardly together on a Tascam 4 track Portastudio that drew on stream of consciousness creativity and a DIY attitude a la Guided By Voices and The Great Unwashed. The desire to move beyond the pre programmed drum patterns available on their Casio Keyboard led to the addition of Rory Heane on drums and a more conventional band dynamic.

        In Late 2016, Alex Macfarlane recorded the band in their lounge room direct to 4 track, capturing 7 songs that would become their 2017 self titled cassette tape debut. The songs were bounced back and forth from tape machine to computer to tape machine to computer again. In keeping with the bands initial aesthetic, dubs were laid over a 4 month period incrementally on different devices as members had babies, explored intercontinental love affairs and set up homes together. Since the release of the tape, Adam Hewwit has joined the group on third guitar as they settle down into exploring the new band dynamic and focus on their next recording project. The Stroppies is composed of members of many Melbourne and UK bands (Claudia is originally from London) including Dick Diver, Primetime, Possible Humans, White Walls, Boomgates, The Stevens, See/Saw to name a few. They make modest, idiosyncratic pop songs that reward with repeated listening. 

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Gravity Is Stern
        2 Go Ahead
        3 No Joke
        4 Under Your Sweater
        5 Courtesy Calls
        6 Celebration Day
        7 All The Lines

        “There is something completely nonsense about it, especially when removed from any kind of context. For me it conjures up images of something absurd and transient - two things fundamental in the experience of listening to or making good pop music.” Whoosh may indeed be a silly word but it almost onomatopoeically captures the sound and essence of The Stroppies first proper debut album, one that breezes along with boundless energy, a refrained pop strut, infectious grooves and the sort of jangling guitar melodies that sound like a prime-era Flying Nun band. Between them, the Melbourne-based band - currently comprising of Gus Lord, Rory Heane, Claudia Serfaty and Adam Hewitt - have been in countless bands such as Boomgates, Twerps, Tyrannamen, Primetime, Blank Statements, The Blinds, White Walls, See Saw and Possible Humans.

        The band formed together around a kitchen table in 2016 with a heavy focus around the essence of collaboration and a DIY ethos. This led to an acclaimed cassette release of lounge room recordings, which was then pressed onto vinyl to more acclaim. The Stroppies next step was then taking their DIY approach to home recordings into the studio to make a transitional leap to what would become their proper studio debut. “Whoosh is our first concerted effort to make something with a bit more sonic depth,”says Claudia Serfaty (the bands other primary songwriter). It’s a record that possesses all the spunk and gusto of a young band hurtling forward yet also knowing when to take their foot off the accelerator.

        It’s an album that simultaneously feels young and fresh but wise beyond its years. “Whoosh is the most robust sounding release we have ever recorded,” Serfaty says. Combining taut post-punk rhythms, indie jangle, seamless melody and sugary pop, it’s a record that Lord says is influenced by: “All sorts of things - life, work, relationships, old cartoons and the last 60+ years of guitar-based pop music in some form or another. This includes everything from Bill Fay to the Clean to Stephen Malkmus.” We utilised whatever was on hand to pull sounds, including but not limited to vintage synths, rain sticks and an old door frame that we used for percussion.”

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Nothing At All
        2. Present Tense
        3. First Time Favourites
        4. My Style, My Substance
        5. Pen Name
        6. Cellophane Car
        7. Better Than Before
        8. The Spy
        9. Entropy
        10. Switched On 


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