Strawberry Whiplash - Hits In The Car

matcd060  /  March 2012
Strawberry Whiplash - Hits In The Car
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Strawberry Whiplash - Hits In The Car

matcd060  /  March 2012

Highly anticipated debut album from Scottish noise and jangle pop enthusiasts Strawberry Whiplash!

The duo’s three singles—‘Who’s In Your Dreams’ EP (2008); ‘Picture Perfect’ EP (2009); and ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ EP (2011)—have earned international admiration including strong reviews in Magnet, All Music Guide, Blurt, The Big Takeover, Sounds XP, Is This Music, and Calle 20, among others. The releases have been celebrated by countless blogs and radio shows, including ‘song of the day’ honors on influential American station KEXP and spins on national radio in the UK and Spain. ‘Picture Perfect’ has even crossed over into mainstream culture with a fan-made Youtube clip generating over 130,000 views to date.

Building on the success of these singles, ‘Hits In The Car’ presents an anorak concept album narrating an evolving relationship from initial chat-up line to Dear John letter. Accordingly, it starts off bright in tone and gets progressively darker as the tracks roll on. The album has the usual influences, including The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Primitives, Lush, The Shop Assistants, Astrud Gilberto, My Bloody Valentine, and Mazzy Star.

Album opener ‘Do You Crash Here Often?’ is a fuzzy pop pick-up line that recalls the melodic best of Blondie, while ‘Everybody's Texting’ is a commentary on instant messaging and the excitement of a new courtship and ‘Now I Know It's You’ is blissful shoegaze pop with especially lush production.

Matching the enthusiasm of a new relationship, ‘Picture Perfect’ is a shimmering song that sets Sandra's pitch perfect vocals and Laz' chiming and fuzzy guitars to a primitive beat. A flawless slice of pop reminiscent of indie classics from The Primitives or Darling Buds, it’s a manic pop thrill that puts the 'hit' in ‘Hits In The Car’.

‘You Make Me Shine’ sees Laz stepping out for a magnificent duet with Sandra. Think Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood meets Sid and Nancy and you’re nearly there. Meanwhile, ‘Looking Out For Summer’ is an effervescent pop hit with zippy intro and Orange Juice guitars that serves as the perfect dose of audio sunshine for road trips in the convertible.

‘What Do They Say About Me?’ is catchy paranoid pop and a pivotal song on the album as it bridges the honeymoon phase of a relationship with the inevitable end. Meanwhile, ‘Dining Out In Paris and London’ is a continental rift with glockenspiel and major seventh chords. If George Orwell were alive and writing bittersweet indie pop, it might sound a bit like this.

‘Stop, Look and Listen’ is another smash hit with spirited intro, an embarrassingly catchy chorus, and driving rhythm, while ‘Another April’ is something altogether different—brooding reflective pop building to an especially tumultuous finish. Continuing in the noisy vein, ‘It Came To Nothing’ sees Strawberry Whiplash put on their pop assistants hats for a dancefloor filler with surf guitars and an extra dose of fuzz and feedback.

As the album draws to a close, ‘Sleepy Head’ features Laz on lead vox in a sublime shoegaze classic with seductive beats that recall the best of the mighty Pale Saints or My Bloody Valentine, while ‘First Light of Dawn’ details the subdued ending of the relationship in fine fashion.

A remarkable debut album, ‘Hits In The Car’ is thirteen smash hits for Strawberry Whiplash and another Scottish pop classic for Matinée!
  1. Do You Crash Here Often?
  2. Everybody's Texting
  3. Now I Know It's You
  4. Picture Perfect
  5. You Make Me Shine
  6. Looking Out For Summer
  7. What Do They Say About Me?
  8. Dining Out In Paris and London
  9. Stop, Look and Listen
  10. Another April
  11. It Came To Nothing
  12. Sleepy Head
  13. First Light of Dawn


We tend to have little truck with "concept" LPs. For our money, most groups find it a difficult enough concept to make an album that's any good, so attempts to render proceedings any more complex are doomed to failure. Having said that, if the band is good enough, the concept might just work: witness Sarandon's set last year, MJ Hibbett’s recent opus and even Rotten Sound's visceral suite, "Cursed". Any road, the concept behind "Hits In The Car" (should you have wondered where we were going with this) is that it charts over 13 tunes the rise, decline and fall of a relationship, and it does so with all the sweetness, intensity and sadness required. Not only does the conceit come off, but as the album progresses it sheds its layers to reveal no end of individually stonking pop songs: in any order, "Hits In The Car" could just as well be a 'greatest hits' as a concept album. While this is Sandra and Laz's first long-player, it's now nearly six years since the duo first seduced our ears with "Boy In The Bubble Car", and four since they catapulted onto the Matinée roster with their rattling "Who's In Your Dreams ?" single ("a happy, gargling stream of revivalist ba-ba-ba's, of gargantuan guitar melodies, of Bubblegum Splash-style thudding drum n' bass"). And from the compact, citrus opener "Do You Crash Here Often ?", which neatly marks an X where Baby Lemonade and the Mary Chain intersect, "Hits In The Car" is a honeyed tangle of sunny jangle, Rickenbacker glory and spry Glaswegian indie-pop zeal epitomised by the singles "Picture Perfect" and "Stop, Look, And Listen" and the zippy harmonies that lift "Looking Out For Summer" to completeness. There's also plenty of Laz's easy way with everyday observation ("everybody's texting / nobody talks") as well as his unshakeable love of the pun: try "Dining Out In Paris And London" for, er, starters. One of us (OK then, me) detected just a twinge of cloying sixtiesness on occasion (I'd cite "What Do They Say About Me?" in this regard), but another thought the same song rang with the bright chimes of early Flatmates. Which just goes to show that one man's meat (whiplash) is another man's (this) poison. There are unexpected stylistic twists, too. So the duet "You Make Me Shine" is not so much Jim Reid / Sister Vanilla, as you might expect, but uncannily recalls Lazy-era Primitives, in the days when both Tracy and PJ took on vocal duties. "Now I Know It's You" is a singularly appetising slab of miasmic two-chord shoegaze, closer to Air Formation than any of Strawberry Whiplash's obvious contemporaries. The two minutes of "It Came To Nothing" flaunt an irresistible punk-pop flavour, all flailing limbs and "Billy's Third". And when we first heard it, we genuinely thought that "Sleepy Head", with its lurching MBV-isms and detuned girl/boy ache, was the undervalued Spraydog. As if all this wasn't enough, you can put a good case for the thoughtful, reflective, end-of-the-affair "First Light Of Dawn" (which even passes the three-minute mark) as being the best song Strawberry Whiplash have ever recorded. So, showing off songwriting nous, dashes of musical variety and an effortlessly-harboured story arc, "Hits In The Car" makes for a truly impressive first album. They've come a long way from "Boy In The Bubble Car", you know: they might have been Isetta then, but they're Isotta-Fraschini now.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
Strawberry Whiplash hail from Glasgow, pay homage to Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash in their name, are Lawrence ‘Laz’ McCluskey’s other band (Bubblegum Lemonade is the other) and have just released their first LP Hits In the Car via Santa Barbara’s Matinee Records. Strawberry Whiplash are probably many other things as well, but those are the facts. Listening to Hits in the Car you quickly realize that they are most definitely many more things as well. For Strawberry Whiplash, McCluskey still writes the songs, but hands over most of the vocal duties to Sandra (no surname given). She has a sweet pop voice that brings to mind Tracy Tracy of Primitives, Sara Cracknell of St. Etienne and the Shangri-Las. Sugar sweet, but a voice only gets you so far. Fortunately she has some great songs to sing. McCluskey seems to have an endless stream of inspiration. Some are classic pop in the vein of the Primitives and Lovelife era Lush, some mine the same Astrud Gilberto vein of pop that Beaumont and Arabesque, did while a few of the songs sound almost shoegazer-ish and one even made me think of the Ramones (I think of the Ramones quite often even when not listening to music). I liked the previous EP’s from Strawberry Whiplash, but they didn’t really allude to how good this record would be. Hits In the Car is a record that upholds the rich Glaswegian indiepop tradition started long ago by Orange Juice, the Pastels, Teenage Fanclub and the Vaselines. Probably 30 years from now, kids will be Tumbling Strawberry Whiplash songs to each other via surgical implants. Why wait for the nostalgia trip? Get in on the ground floor!   --The Finest Kiss
From 2008 onwards, Strawberry Whiplash, who feature Laz from Bubblegum Lemonade, have released three excellent EPs and we have been gnashing at the bit for a full length long player ever since. So is Hits In The Car, a concept album about the rise and subsequent decline and failure of a relationship, worth the wait? Well simply put it's a big 'yes'. Opener "Do You Crash Here Often" sets the tone with its 1960s bubblegum pop sound which fits perfectly alongside Sandra's sublime vocals. Tracks on the album's taster single "Stop, Look & Listen" hinted at the band moving away from those 1960s influenced roots to a more 1980s indie, or dare I say C86, sound. This is more than evidenced by the way Strawberry Whiplash manage to out Primitive the reformed Primitives! Songs such as "You Make Me Shine" and "Looking Out For Summer" have that Pure (pun intended!) 1980s Primitives sound. They are Lovely (alright I will stop it now...) They also get a bit fuzzy along the way too, paying homage to those fine Scottish bands of the past such as early Mary Chain (Laz gets a bit Jim Reid-ish when he sings), The Shop Assistants, The Fizzbombs, Baby Lemonade etc, from whom they derive numerous influences. Check out Now I Know It's You as an example. There is even a bit of shoegaze in the mix too, especially on album closer First Light Of Dawn which sounds a bit al la Lush, transporting me back twenty odd years in time. Hits In The Car is a great example of guitar driven pop with an abundance of catchy tunes that will make you want to hitch a permanent ride with Laz and Sandra. Back to the future? Methinks so!   --Sounds XP
The duo of vocalist Sandra and instrumentalist Laz keep things simple on Strawberry Whiplash's debut album Hits in the Car. Sticking with the near-perfect blend of jangle and fuzz they'd displayed on previous singles and EPs, the album sounds like a well-crafted update on the classic girl pop sound of bands like the Shop Assistants and Heavenly. Using a basic guitar-bass-drums set-up, Laz doesn't reinvent the pop wheel at all; he's better at providing a comfortable bed of sound for Sandra's endlessly sweet vocals. She has a perfectly pitched pop voice that's equally at home delivering both the melancholy and bouncing along happily. The songs on the album are split pretty evenly along those lines, with the uptempo tracks coming off the best. "Picture Perfect" sounds like a single the Darling Buds wish they had written, "What Do They Say About Me" has a nice girl group dreaminess, and "Stop, Look and Listen" has a cute little hook. Though the record is on-the-nose '90s girl pop worship, the duo manage to get a little adventurous and drop some shoegaze into the mix on the hypnotic "Sleepy Head." Hits in the Car won't win too many points for originality, but thanks to the solid songcraft, the pleasant sounds, and most of all, Sandra's vocals, the album is a success.   --All Music Guide
...and the pop hits keep coming from the Matinee label. After a few EPs (Who's in Your Dreams and Picture Perfect as well as the "Stop, Look and Listen" 7"; the title tracks of the latter two are included here) Strawberry Whiplash's debut full-length is finally here. The band is the Scottish duo of Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey and the vocalist known only as Sandra (Laz is also the face behind another Scottish band, Bubblegum Lemonade). 13 songs here of more of that sun-drenched jangle (think early Primal Scream, The Primitives, Heavenly and Jesus & Mary Chain and you're on the right street... hell, you're in the driveway), and while there may not be much sun in Scotland most of the time, this record will brighten up the sky every time it's on. Opener "Do You Crash Here Often?" sets the tone perfectly with the guitars on buzz and Sandra's cooing vocals while the current news of "Everybody's Texting" and the 50's buzz beat of "Now I Know It's You" continue the pop onslaught. They slow it down for the male/female duet of "You Make Me Shine" but then crank things right back up again on the snappy "Looking Out for Summer." Honestly, there's plenty here to dig here and the whole thing breezes by pretty effortlessly, which ultimately shows the strength of Laz's songs. As it says on the inside "Guaranteed to be 100% Autotune free!"   --Blurt Magazine
Okay, no surprise. It’s been foreshadowed. It’s everyone who is anyone's pick of the week. I exhibit no originality in this choice. Oh, btw, one more’s absolutely an amazing listen. And again. Over, and over. New Release of the Week!   --Indie Pop Saved My Life
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 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 The Car' is an essential purchase.   --The Sound of Confusion
In his justly famous essay The Question Concerning Technology, über-philosopher Martin Heidegger expressed his fear that the colonization of the realm of Being by technology (as techne) meant that everything — from nature to human relationships — would be enframed, transformed into “standing-reserve.” Technology becomes not a tool, but a mode of existence. On “Everybody’s Texting,” Strawberry Whiplash come to a similar conclusion. Despite the trite nature of the sentiment, it’s interesting to hear a retro-pop song discuss texting, signals, and information flows — and this might speak to the increasing inescapability of addiction to devices, to the outsourcing of the mind, to the masturbatory (lol) self-gratification of the screen as social mediator. Nonetheless, listening to Hits In The Car is definitely a (self-) gratifying experience. Strawberry Whiplash announce their attentions in their moniker, begotten from an amalgam of pastoral 80s synthpoppers Strawberry Switchblade and similar-vintage noise poppers Meat Whiplash. (I can’t let this moment go past without expressing my disappointment, shared by other wags, that they didn’t go with “Meat Switchblade.”) Hits In The Car is obviously a loving recreation of the 80s twee pop/noise pop sound, particularly as it came out of Glasgow, from where our contemporary heroes hail. But it’s done extremely well, bringing to fruition the tantalizing promise of EPs Who’s In Your Dreams? and Picture Perfect. (The title track of the second also features on the present album.) For this reviewer’s money, the chief, though oft-blurry, subdivision in the twee arena is that, between clear, ringing jangles, and fuzzy lo-fi, Strawberry Whiplash tend toward the latter. But if they’re era purists, they’re not genre absolutists. That is to say, there’s some blurring around the edges of the template, most notably on “You Make Me Shine” (a duet recalling The Jesus and Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval’s “Sometimes Always”) and “Sleepy Head” (a pleasant slice of Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine pastiche). The other dividing line that often obtains in this style is more temporal, between the moment of the crush (exciting and nerve-racking, but essentially romantic and hopeful) and the bittersweet, melancholy disappointment of being on the receiving end of a spurning. Although there are some slower moments tempo-wise, Hits In The Car traverses the terrain of the first — so get your cardie on and join me for a bedroom dance! (Not a euphemism in this context.) Heidegger was not a Luddite technophobe; he concluded that, in order to avoid the danger inherent in the modern relationship to technology, humans must recognize the claim being made upon them by this mode of existence. In doing so, they recognize that their Being is not a Being-alone, but always a Being-with; so, with this knowledge in hand, we can stop our subservient “sleepwalking around with our heads to the ground” (“Everybody’s Texting,” again). According to Heidegger, this can be done if we remember to “listen, but not obey.” In the present case, however, I’d turn the equation around: Obey me, and listen to Hits In The Car.   --Tiny Mix Tapes
It’s strange to think that Hits in the Car is truly the debut record for Strawberry Whiplash; seems like I’ve been posting their singles or B-Sides for years now. Regardless, this collection of thirteen great pop tunes is pretty spot-on for a debut, going between infectious indie pop and noisy janglings; its all worth every minute of time you invest, and one can only suspect that you’ll get more back the more you put in. Perhaps one of my favorite attributes of this sort of pop is the simplicity of both the entire construction, from song title to the execution of the track itself, it’s no small feat to pull this off as well as Strawberry Whiplash does. Take, for instance, “Everyone’s Texting,” which might seem like sort an arbitrary song, as we’re aware everyone is definitely texting. But, from the slight jangle in the guitar work, to the steadying drum beat, the song is more than just plain commentary; it’s pristine pop. For me, one of the best things about Hits in the Car is the effortless playfulness that seems to coincide with the group’s work. You can listen to “What Do They Say About Me” and hear that nostalgic swirling guitar, but Sandra’s vocals, purposefully stuttering at points, show both the fun and attention to detail that goes into pop like this. Even smashing hit “Stop Look and Listen” plays with the vocal delivery, which either demonstrates the fun they’re having, or just their reliance on capturing the perfect hook–it all works for me. Even more promising is some of the slight experimentation that comes into play on the album, showing that Strawberry Whiplash have other places they’re willing to go, musically speaking. ”It Came to Nothing” has this great little power-pop swagger to it, as Sandra sings gently atop it all. Or you can listen to the band as they dabble in the noise-rock territory, one of the few songs where Laz takes control of the vocal duties. The other track where he features prominently is “You Make Me Shine,” a song that sounds remarkably like something you’d expect the Magnetic Fields to craft. You’ve got to credit a group that aren’t willing to be pigeon-holed by their own sound, or the masses for that matter. When it boils down to it all, you can easily write about each one of these songs as great singles, and assuredly that’s what the group intended with the titles Hits in the Car. What’s surprising is that they pulled it off, rather successfully. You can listen to Strawberry Whiplash’s new effort bits at a time, or as an entire collection, but no matter what, you’re going to find yourself loving it. It’s simple, it’s poppy, it’s experimental; really, it’s just a gem of a record.   --Austin Town Hall
Scottish duo Strawberry Whiplash has been releasing fun little twee pop singles for the past several years, and now finally a full-length is available through California indie label Matinée Recordings. Entitled Hits In The Car, the album is loaded with light, fizzy late 80s hook-filled jangle pop. Most of it is light, breezy, and fun, but “It Came To Nothing” adds some moody noise and ends up sounding closer to Colleen Green or the Vivian Girls. Great stuff.   --Get Bent
You will hopefully recall the Cats On Fire track from a while ago and today another sugar-coated band from the Matinée label. They are Strawberry Whiplash and for those of you who remember Lush and think they were a better band than they had credit for, well you will like Strawberry Whiplash. The older members of this gathering will also remember The Shangri-Las and they are also clearly an influence. Hailing from Glasgow, Laz McLuskey drives things and records such as Bubblegum Lemonade, releasing a cracking album last year, “Sophomore Release”. Back to Strawberry Whiplash however, and they have released a few singles/EPs over the last four years and now, hot off the presses, is the debut album “Hits In The Car”. British Summertime officially starts today and the attached slice of dream pop should encourage you to look forward to some carefree days in the sun, even if today’s weather suggests otherwise.   --God Is In The TV
After a series of EPs, Strawberry Whiplash finally has its full-length debut out with Hits in the Car. It’s an immediately catchy indie-pop album, strong on melodies, with the right amount of fuzz and reverb texturing things up. Given the bright feel of much of the album, the narrative progression might not be as immediately apparent. The disc tracks the life of a romantic relationship in two-and-a-half-minute nuggets. There’s a emotional drain in the album’s second half, but it’s hidden in sugar like “Stop, Look and Listen”, which seems musically in denial (or at least surprise) at the couple’s inevitable future. If it sounds bleak, keep in mind there are only a couple songs that actually sound bleak. And then you can just skip back to a cut like “You Make Me Shine”, one of the gems of the year.   --Pop Matters
If you take a look back to the glory days of C86 (if a aesthetic so famously and intentionally shambolic can have ‘glory days’), one of its defining characteristics is the consistent lack of LPs—if you stop to think about it, the C86 catalogue is probably 90% EPs and Peel Sessions. It’s a common tale, really, not simply reserved for 80s indiepop (just look at all those now priceless 1960s garage and northern soul recordings, or the Oneders), but it’s long since become a hallmark of the DIY aesthetic. I’m happy to say, however, that it is not a trait that has been passed on to their more recent descendants—a trend most recently defied by Glaswegian pop proponents, Strawberry Whiplash. Over the last few years, Strawberry Whiplash have released a string of picture perfect EPs on Matinée Recordings, most recently the unforgivably catchy Stop, Look and Listen 7” (December 2011). With nearly every recording a sure pop hit (if, in an autotuned universe, it were actually possible for this sort of thing to become an RIAA-approved ‘hit’), it would be entirely possible for Laz and Sandra to hang their hats on the occasional cluster of fuzz pop gems. Instead, much to my delight, they have released their first LP, appropriately titled, Hits In The Car. Hits In The Car is a collection of 13 mostly new tracks that tell the story of a relationship from the initial spark of attraction to the eventual decay and dissolution. I say ‘mostly new’ because, tucked in among a baker’s dozen sparkling fuzz pop gems are some tracks from previous EPs, like the aforementioned ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. They serve, of course, to further the narrative, but hearing the irresistible melody of the once eponymous ‘Picture Perfect’ in a new context also serves as a pleasantly unexpected reminder of just how much you’ve always loved Strawberry Whiplash. Alongside the classic Whiplash are several others destined to assume their rightful place in the cannon. The opening one-two punch of ‘Do You Crash Here Often’ and ‘Everybody’s Texting’ offer the perfect hybrid of late 70s post punk and the shoegaze classics of the late 80s, while the crunchy guitars of ‘You Make Me Shine’ set up what proves to be a glistening duet between Laz and Sandra which includes a short but oh-so-sweet solo guitar bridge. The pivotal point in the album narrative, ‘What Do They Say About Me’, is the sweetest bit of paranoia you’re likely to hear on a pop record, and, like all good forms of doubt and suspicion, it’s infectious. The penultimate track, ‘Sleepy Head’, once again sees multi-instrumentalist Laz McCluskey assume lead vocal responsibilities. It is also, fittingly, a far cry, stylistically, from the vast majority of Strawberry Whiplash tracks, being driving, dissonant, hard-hitting bit of shoegazing and the perfect foil for Sandra’s resolute and oddly soothing closer, ‘First Light Of Dawn’. Strawberry Whiplash could have easily contented themselves with being a phenomenal singles band like so many of the acts from the flash-in-the-pan scene whose torch they bear. And, up to this point, they have been. But with Hits In The Car, the band have proven that they can be—and are—so much more than that. This blog has, in many respects, grown up alongside Strawberry Whiplash, so they will, of course, always have a special place in my heart. But with a band so consistently easy to love, I suppose it was bound to happen.   --The Indie Handbook
Just heard this indiepop duo from Glasgow — which has become a fertile breeding ground for such bands — a couple days ago who recently released their full-length titled Hits In The Car on Matinée last week, and I have to say that I’m completely smitten with them at the moment. The duo comprises of Lawrence ‘Laz’ McCluskey, who’s also in the band Bubblegum Lemonade (we’ve mentioned them before, but my archives are kaput, unfortunately), along with Sandra who does the singin’. While their description pegs them as a noise-pop group, which may be true at times, actually listening to them you’ll realize they are anything but. I mean, look at their name, Strawberry Whiplash! How can you not be anymore twee than that?! Their namesake apparently comes from Scottish bands Strawberry Switchblade (a new wave band from the 80s) and Meat Whiplash (one of the first bands signed to Creation Records). Check out “Now I Know It’s You” with its fuzzed out guitars and understated vocals. While this may be the band at its most subdued, the rest of the record makes up for it, as many of the songs are at times upbeat, infectious and so very jangly. Just as we like it here at TYS.   --The Yellow Stereo
Anyone who has followed the career of Glasgow's Laz (Lawrence) McCluskey knows he is a master guitar pop craftsman. For both his Bubblegum Lemonade project and our current focus, Strawberry Whiplash, he creates hook-filled melodies embellished by the jangle and fuzz of his guitar. And with Strawberry Whiplash, we get the added treat of Sandra's pitch perfect vocal delivery. Building on their foundation of three singles since 2008, Laz and Sandra have just released their first full length album -- Hits in the Car on Matinée Recordings. The album comprises 13 tracks, arranged along the concept of the life of a relationship from the original pickup (the 59 seconds of "Do You Crash Here Often") to the final kiss-off (the touching "First Light of Dawn"). While a concept album is an ambitious task, especially for a debut, the duo are fully up to the challenge. Heard as a concept or as single tracks, you will be charmed and entertained. The songs are concise pop nuggets -- only one exceeds three minutes -- and they echo the influences of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Shop Assistants, The Primitives and Phil Spector produced girl groups. "Picture Perfect" appears when the subject relationship still is on track. And as things slide further towards breakup, Laz and Sandra hit us with this glorious tumult of fuzzy guitars, reminiscent of their Glasgow forebears The Shop Assistants: "It Came To Nothing." Hits in the Car is the real deal--no poses or pretenses--just expertly crafted and delivered noise pop that exists for the right reason: They like to perform it and we like to hear it. Fortunately, unlike the relationship at the core of the album, you'll be able to listen to the songs over and over.   --When You Motor Away
Laz and Sandra's long-awaited debut album is delivered, after three EPs, in typically cool indie pop fashion. 'Do You Crash Here Often?' is as catchy as the Primitives' 'Crash'. It is an arms in the air indie anthem, very short and sweet and to the point. 'Everybody's Texting' is syrupy sweet, 60's flavoured but with a modern viewpoint of the world we now live in. 'Now I Know It's You' shimmers along like Talulah Gosh covering a Kitchens of Distinction number, while Laz and Sandra's vocals joyfully linger over the top. 'Picture Perfect' is again reminiscent of the Primitives and has a massive Rickenbacker sound. 'You Make Me Shine' is a perfect duet, which sounds like a 21st century 'Sometimes Always' by the Jesus and Mary Chain or better still a jangly Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. 'Looking Out for Summer' is indie pop as it should be done with sparkling vocals and jangling guitars that let the sun pour right in. 'What Do They Say About Me?' is a jolly number, a song to make you skip around and smile at everyone in a dumb fashion. 'Dining Out in Paris and London' comes over like a jangly version of early Stereolab, while 'Stop, Look and Listen' is a moshing number for indie fans to lose their shyness to, and to grab the girl of their dreams whom they have fancied for forever and pull them up onto the dance floor. 'Another April' in contrast is slow and moody, but soon picks up pace and gets faster. 'It Came to Nothing' is reminiscent of the Shop Assistants with its punky energy, while 'Sleepy Head', sung as a duet, is much more indie then indiepop and darker-toned in texture. 'First Light of Dawn' is as gentle as a Sarah Records number, and brings the record to a surprisingly quiet end. A great record for the summer, if we ever get one.   --Pennyblack Magazine
After three fun singles in four years, Glasgow, Scottish popsters Strawberry Whiplash realize their potential on their debut LP. The Whiplash is visited on the necks of those who followed 1984-1994 UK pop; Hits shows a band with feet planted on the post-Smiths C86-era outbreak, as well as the post-My Bloody Valentine’s dreampop explosion on a few tracks. Inevitably, with a sweet-voiced singer in Sandra, who sings like a mom to a toddler (SW’s bio suggests Astrud Gilberto, and I think of the 1966 duet Gilberto did with her little son covering Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice’ in general, Sandra sings with a similar, pleasant inflection as the bossa nova star), one thinks of such sunny femme-led groups as The Darling Buds, Primitives, Flatmates, Shop Assistants, Talulah Gosh, and Outskirts (and Lush, Curve, and Cocteau Twins for the shoegaze stuff). And they’re so good at this, the derivative tag matters not. It’s all so lightly fuzzy, puppies and ice cream on the surface, and lyrically more interesting on deeper inspection. For instance, ‘Dining Out In Paris and London’ references a truly remarkable book on starving and inhumanity, George Orwell’s 1933 classic Down and Out in Paris and London, and ‘Everybody’s Texting’ capably laments the lack of human connection all around you, which slavish devotion to insular electronic devices prevent, trading the visceral for the virtual. But mostly you’ll get swept up in Laz’ guitar candy (also in his Bubblegum Lemonade releases) and Sandra’s lulling la-la voice.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
It's been a long time coming but the new Strawberry Whiplash album has finally arrived and I don't mind saying it's probably the best record I've bought this week. It's called "Hits In The Car" and features thirteen tracks of pure pop brilliance.   --Burning World
Thirteen tracks of summery bliss.   --Fuzzbook
Here’s a record I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. It might not feel like it but this is, as a matter of fact, the first full-length record from the Glaswegian duo Strawberry Whiplash. After about six years, three EPs and numerous compilation appearances (“Summershine” being my favourite to this day), it’s high time for Laz to prove that Strawberry Whiplash is more than a side project to Bubblegum Lemonade (as whom he has already released two albums). Hits In The Car does just that, with strong songwriting, just enough humour to not tip into the comedy abyss, and essentially, variation in the material. With clever nods to pop history icons like The Monkees as much as forgotten footnotes like The Velvelettes, Laz is not the kind of person who’s averse to calling a song “Surfin’ USB”. On this record though, it feels like he’s laid off some of the referencing, both literal and sonic (usually JAMC fuzz, Byrds jangle) and just lets the songs shine. It’s still hard not to get a Jim Reid déjà-vu as he sings his parts in the duet “You Make Me Shine” with lead vocalist Sandra. But as much as it reminds me of Reid & Sandoval’s “Sometimes Always”, it’s a timeless feel that has been tapped into way before Lee & Nancy perfected it. There’s something for everyone here, from the simple upbeat “It Came to Nothing”, to languid maj7-heavy “Dining Out In Paris and London”. “Sleepy Head” would probably make even Kevin Shields satisfied. In all, it’s a versatile record with a full sound, combining real drums with drum machine to the effect of a convincing band recording. No real standouts (in a positive sense), but if I had to choose one it’d have to be “Everybody’s Texting” which is cleverly heartbreaking and melodically melancholic. Or perhaps melancholically melodic. Hits In The Car was preceded at the tail end of last year by the excellent 7″ EP Stop, Look and Listen, whose title track is also on the album. The 7″ is well worth picking up with the same order, for the two excellent b-sides.   --Record Turnover
Summer is near, and so are those small juicy yummy fruits called strawberries. Jangly Scottish duo Strawberry Whiplash know the way to make their hometown proud. Honoring the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush and The Shop Assistants, they finally release (highly anticipated) debut album ”Hits In The Car” (Matinée). Dreams and pictures dressed in red.   --Candy Bar
With three singles in the last four years, it’s high time Glaswegian two-piece Strawberry Whiplash finally unleashed their debut LP Hits In The Car. Renowned for their jangly indie pop sound, the duo keeps strong their ’90s throwback vibe, beckoning influences like Mazzy Star and The Jesus And Mary Chain.   --Records Abroad
Acompanhada desde há muito por estas bandas, a dupla escocesa Strawberry Whiplash é ideia da cabeça de Lawrence McCluskey, responsável pela totalidade dos instrumentos. Se nos similares Bubblegum Lemonade trabalha em solitário, aqui conta com a preciosa ajuda da voz cândida de Sandra. O nome do projecto deriva de uma combinação do das bandas conterrâneas Strawberry Switchblade e Meat Whiplash, o que diz algo da sonoridade da parelha, com a doçura dos primeiros e a propensão fuzzy dos últimos. Depois de uma série de lançamentos em pequeno formato, saídos quase a conta-gotas, tardou mas chegou o álbum de estreia. Chama-se Hits In The Car e está ao nível das expectativas criadas junto da falange devota da indie-pop mais canónica. Tendo a dupla base em Glasgow, não surpreende que o álbum vagueie num limbo entre as memórias da C86 e da pop "clássica" de sessentas, o que por si só não traz grandes novidades. Sucede, porém, que os treze temas que compõem Hits In The Car são de primeira estampa sob o ponto de vista melódico, com a particularidade de o todo ser vagamente conceptual. Na circunstância discorre-se sobre as minudências de uma relação amorosa: os altos e os baixos, a felicidade e a amargura. Quando envereda por uma via retro, o par faz lembrar os melhores The Primitives do recente e surpreendente álbum de versões. Já quando o fuzz contamina as melodias, vêm-nos à memória uns My Bloody Valentine de Isn't Anything injectado de uma boa dose de luminosidade, ou até uns Mary Chain de meados de noventas. Para amostra fica um exemplar de cada uma destas últimas estirpes. Oiçam e depois digam-me das semelhanças do segundo com determinado dueto da banda dos manos Reid.   --April Skies
Tra i dischi che mi stanno accompagnando ormai fedeli da qualche mese, il debutto degli Strawberry Whiplash, Hits In The Car, è uno di quelli che non mi stanca davvero mai. Debutto poi non è una parola del tutto esatta: la band di Glasgow pubblica ep con la leggendaria Matinée Records ormai da diversi anni. Questo primo disco ufficiale infatti rappresenta più un punto di arrivo che di partenza, con un bouquet di influenze che ci prendono per la gola: Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pastels, The Shop Assistants e Pale Saints solo per citarne alcuni. Insomma, un pop molto molto ispirato ed immerso fino ai capelli nel C86, scritto e suonato davvero bene. Come la band racconta nell’intervista ad opera del nostro Luca Pasi, queste canzoni ti colpiscono come le hits in macchina, siano incidenti o canzoni belle e spietate. Un'altra band che tiene a livelli altissimi la bandiera del pop scozzese, uno dei miei dischi dell'anno.   --Frigopop!
Agli irriducibili appassionati del pop scozzese non è di certo sfuggita la spontanea simpatia ispirata dalla figura di Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey, ultraquarantenne rubicondo e gioviale titolare di due band che differiscono soltanto per la voce: Bubblegum Lemonade e Strawberry Whiplash. Mentre i primi hanno già all’attivo due album, i secondi debuttano adesso sulla lunga distanza con dopo una manciata di singoli. La formula è sempre quella di brevi popsong (tredici in appena trentadue minuti), il cui sapore agrodolce risulta dall’intreccio tra chitarre jangly e melodie rese zuccherose dalle interpretazioni della vocalist Sandra. Pastels e Delgados sullo sfondo, per una mezz’ora di solare spensieratezza indie-pop.   --Music Won't Save You
Oh no, ancora il fuzz delle chitarre, una voce femminile sciacquata sopra, la batteria secca e dritta come un ingranaggio inarrestabile... Niente paura, è solo un avvertimento agli allergici. Dopo anni di pubblicazioni intermittenti di singoli ed Ep, gli Strawberry Whiplash - incarnazione del duo formato da Laz McCluskey, già mente creativa dei Bubblegum Lemonade, e dalla fantomatica Sandra - giungono al primo Lp, pubblicato attraverso la Matinée. Storia di una relazione illustrata progressivamente, dall'eccitazione iniziale allo scioglimento finale, "Hits In The Car" ha in realtà più che altro lo scopo di raccogliere il gradevole (ma di certo non originalissimo) repertorio dei due. Spirito glaswegian alla riscossa nell'apatico jangle di "Looking Out For Summer", sixties volteggianti in "What Do They Say About Me?", dandyismo retrò in "Dining Out In Paris And London", in un'allegra e ispirata riproposizione di tutti i possibili cliché dell'indie-pop, con parrucconi cotonati e occhialoni di plastica nera che sembrano spuntare dalla decappottabile primaverile nella quale è ambientato "Hits In The Car". Ma anche nelle cianfrusaglie usate del mercato delle pulci ci sono cose di valore, cose ben fatte, come le canzoni dei Strawberry Whiplash, come la soave, Murdoch-iana "First Light Of Dawn", come lo shoegaze alienato di "Sleepyhead". Tra un'opportuna frivolezza twee ("You Make Me Shine") e pulsioni distruttive punk-pop ("It Came To Nothing") gli Strawberry Whiplash fluttuano confortabilmente nell'imperturbabile afasia che contraddistingue soprattutto l'indie-pop contemporaneo, canzoni del tutto slegate da un contesto, valide e insignificanti per tutti, adatte più che altro a un passeggero sollazzo. Bene così, ma un po' meno freddezza gioverebbe.   --Ondarock
Escuchar un disco de Strawberry Whiplash, y en consecuencia, uno de Laz McCluskey bajo su otro alias: Bubblegum Lemonade, supone realizar un ejercicio de recorrido y repaso por casi todas las filias musicales del personaje. El escocés es un músico muy “a su aire”, obsesionado con determinados géneros, estilos y músicos determinados, y parece como si en cada disco quisiera realizarles un homenaje a su modo, como decíamos antes, a su manera. El Pop de toda la vida, con tres letras mayúsculas, el Twee-Pop, el Fuzz-Pop, el Jangle-Pop, el C-86, el Surf… casi todo tiene cabida en sus discos. Lógicamente, este álbum de debut de Strawberry Whiplash no iba a ser menos, y en él nos encontramos de bruces con temas redondos, de esos que te alegran el día casi sin darte cuenta, que te empapan y calan hasta los huesos; con estribillos molones y con frases fáciles. Es decir: la conjunción perfecta para dar vida a un perfecto disco de Pop intemporal, interpretado al modo de comienzos del ventiuno, con la dosis de distorsión perfecta para no saturarnos en ningún momento, pero con la sensibilidad Pop a flor de piel. Desde el irónico comienzo (Do you crash here often?) nos encontramos con temazos como Everybody´s texting o Now I know it´s you, donde el ingenio se entremezcla con la melancolía a partes iguales. Guiños al Twee-Pop: Looking out for summer, What do they say about me?; al Shoegaze: Sleepy head; a la música más francófona de los sesenta: Dining out in Paris and London; al C86: It came to nothing; o a grupos de chicas como Heavenly, Tiger Trap o Black Tambourine: Picture perfect, You make me shine (en el que nos encontramos con un atractivo dueto Sandra-Laz, muy a lo Nancy Sinatra-Lee Nazlewood pero entonando al estilo de los hermanos Reid); Stop, look and listen… El conocimiento musical de Laz unido a la melosa voz de Sandra conciben un disco que difícilmente pasaría desapercibido para cualquier oído Pop que se precie. El saber enciclopédico de la música de las últimas décadas que queda reflejado en el disco, hace de este Hits in the car (Matinée, 2012) una joyita (otra más) que añadir a su pequeño catálogo de gemas. El álbum está editado por Matinée, otra especialista en tesoros Pop, y supone el debut del dúo tras varios singles previos. Para los no iniciados, os recomiendo visitar su Soundcloud y la página del sello, donde podréis escuchar otros temas.   --The Janglebox
Strawberry Whiplash es un dúo de Glasgow formado por Sandra a la voz y por el alma máter de Bubblegum Lemonade, Laz, a la guitarra y batería. Debutan en disco largo tras sacar un par de Eps en 2008 y 2009. Siguen la tradición del mejor pop hecho en Escocia, en ese Glasgow repleto de grandes grupos de dulces y maravillosas melodías. Me vienen a la mente grupos expléndidos como Talulah Gosh o The Darling Buds, que son claras referencias del dúo. Twee pop adornado con guitarras que destilan sonidos jangle pop. Una delicia para los oídos.   --Dr. Kale y Mr. Jack
Interesante debut el de esta banda de indie pop de Glasgow, que se nutre de parte de la larga tradición poppie de esa ciudad, véase Teenage Fanclub, Orange Juice, The Vaselines, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, The Pastels o los padres del noise The Jesus and Mary Chain, por nombrar alguno. Los sonidos twee más ñonos no parecen encajar mucho dentro del noise, pero Strawberry Whiplash nos quieren convencer de lo equivocados que estamos. Un certero homenaje a las melodías adictivas, una coqueta amalgama de multitud de sensibilidades, como el noise, el pop de los sesenta, el C86, el twee pop, guiños a esas girls groups de ascendencia spectoriana, la bossanova, hasta se percibe un cierto aroma a la California soleada de esas bandas de chicas que nos han traído de cabeza en los últimos tiempos. A pesar de que coquetean tímidamente con el noise y marcan una muy visible genuflexión a los hermanos Reid en “You Make Me Shine”, no son en exceso ruidosos, al contrario, suenan dulces e inocentes, gracias en parte a la bonita voz de la cantante que recuerda a la de Tracy Tracy de The Primitives. Pop cÁndido, saltarín y tontorrón, con interesantes dosis de reverb, y mezclado con ruido blanco, casi neutro, exudan ternura por todos sus poros, twee sencillo, mágico y feliz, donde cualquier tentación de oscuridad es rápidamente atajada, pop para melosos, y para los poppies más fundamentalistas, un disco que te sacarÁ una de esas tontas sonrisillas, entre pÍcaras e infantiles, y que hará mover tus pies de forma autónoma. El disco lo edita y distribuye el ya mítico sello Matineé Recordings.   --Es Demasiado Para Mi Cabeza
Strawberry Whiplash es una banda escocesa de Glasgow, que ha tenido un interesante debut con "Hits In The Cars", un disco de indie-pop cuyo sonido recuerda mucho a The Primitives, Lush o The Shops Assistants.   --La Mazmorra