Strawberry Whiplash - Picture Perfect EP

matinée 072  /  September 2009
Strawberry Whiplash - Picture Perfect EP
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Strawberry Whiplash - Picture Perfect EP

matinée 072  /  September 2009

Extraordinary sophomore release from Scottish pop sensations Strawberry Whiplash! Following a swell of positive feedback for their debut single ‘Who’s In Your Dreams’ last year, the duo deliver four smash hits that unequivocally disqualify them from one hit wonder status forever.

Lead track ‘Picture Perfect’ is a shimmering song that sets Sandra's pitch perfect vocals and Laz' chiming and fuzzy guitars to a hip-shaking primitive beat. A flawless slice of pop reminiscent of classic indie singles from The Primitives or Darling Buds, it’s a catchy burst of summertime neatly packaged for any time of the year.

‘Hay In A Needlestack’ is a reflective number featuring mellowed out tremolo guitar and glockenspiel, while ‘Celestial’ is Strawberry Alarm Clock meets The Popguns—jangling guitars leading to fuzzy stop-start choruses and sweet Doorsian organ bursts—and ‘Falling Through’ is a fuzzed up indie pop gem that ticks all the Strawberry Whiplash boxes to conclude the EP.

Four fantastic songs that prove the brilliance of the band’s debut single was no happy accident, ‘Picture Perfect’ is an absolute triumph for Strawberry Whiplash and another notable release for Matinée. Limited to 1000 copies in custom minijacket.

  1. Picture Perfect
  2. Hay In A Needlestack
  3. Celestial
  4. Falling Through


Remember those Lush songs that Emma used to sing that all the dopey indieboys (myself included) didn't think were as good as the ones Miki used to sing, because - dur - she was Miki. They were all wrong. I was wrong. But it's good to see that Strawberry Whiplash has seen the value in a good Emma Anderson song, because the 'Perfect Picture' ep transports this listener right back to 1991, when he had considerably more hair and, therefore, a better fringe. The title track is all chiming guitars, hazy, swooping verses and vocals that are always quite cute enough to make themselves heard above it all. It's a bit like Clare Grogan fronting Teenage Fanclub for a few joyous minutes. 'Celestial' is altogether more understated, but is all the better for it. All resignation and daydreams, with an outro that might be amongst my favourites of the year. And yes, I keep a list. What of it? 'Falling Through' ends the ep on a suitable ethereal, fuzzy, but resolutely poppy note. This is what I thought music was going to be like forever in 1991, and then it all disapeared as soon as it had arrived. Strawberry Whiplash have brought it back with all the venom perfect pop can muster.   --A Layer of Chips
Strawberry Whiplash's strong suit is simplicity. The four songs on the band's 2009 sophomore EP, Picture Perfect, don't chase after deep truths or brainy musical gestures; from the sound of things, Laz McClusky (the man behind the like-minded indie pop project Bubblegum Lemonade) and lead singer Sandra are content with simply being a bubblegummy, C-86-ish band that makes jangle-sweet pop tunes about falling in love. And there's nothing wrong with that -- from front to back, Picture Perfect offers a tasty balance wistful and fiery, twinkly bells and churning guitars. Graced with a voice that hovers somewhere between Rose Melberg and Tracyanne Campbell, Sandra's approach to these songs is wonderfully light -- her simultaneously detached yet warm delivery lends just the right amount of tenderness and vulnerability to these pop tunes. It's the kind of sound that compares favorably to acts like Motorcycle Boy, the Primitives, and Tiger Trap -- and in this way Picture Perfect's spun-sugar tracks sound a whole lot like the material that made up Strawberry Whiplash's 2008 debut. The main difference here is a big dose of confidence; on Picture Perfect, the arrangements are tighter, the production is ever-so-slightly crisper, and Sandra just sounds more at ease. Indie pop fans looking for a sugar fix along the lines of the School or the Pains of Being Pure at Heart would be well-served to check out this little disc.   --All Music Guide
Bubblegum Lemonade’s Laz McCluskey collaborates with vocalist Sandra in the equally sugary-sounding noise-pop band Strawberry Whiplash. The two hail from Glasgow, Scotland, and have just released their second EP, Picture Perfect (Matinée). The follow-up to 2008’s Who’s In Your Dreams EP features four sunny tracks with sweet, girlish vocals and plenty of fuzz and reverb.   --Magnet Magazine
Glasgow’s Strawberry Whiplash return with a new EP, and again they’re effortlessly doling out sweet, snappy pop songs with an occasional air of sadness with a happy-go-lucky demeanor. The title song wears the biggest smile, though as a love song it’s a fairly defensive one. The basic sentiment: I love you though you’re manipulating my heart. Lead vocalist Sandra’s confident singing convinces us she’s not just spinning a yarn while making the song still generally upbeat. There’s something about the melody to the second song, “Hay in a Needlestack”, that I like even better. I don’t follow the meaning behind the title metaphor completely, but as a play on words it sounds great, as do the guitars, her determined if downcast singing, and everything else about the song. Two more songs round things out, and they’re no worse: the both sullen and sunny “Celestial” and “Falling Through”, which turns the guitars up over the vocals to nice effect. A postcard to Strawberry Whiplash: Enjoying the EPs, looking forward to the album.   --Erasing Clouds
Strawberry Whiplash must be Scottish for Syrupy Indie-Pop. This Glasgow boy-girl duo (Lawrence & Sandra) give their best C86 impression with dreamy pop tunes reminiscent of bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Primitives. Classic fuzzed out shoegaze guitars with happy vocals are their signature formula; a mixture of sounds partly inspired from local Glasgow bands Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash. If music releases were books, their 4-Song EP Picture Perfect would be a great short-story. Fuzzed out guitars and dreamy shoegaze lyrics are all on display, dished up in true retro fashion. Nothing beats the sound of a good Rickenbacker. Is it too late to catch the last rays of sunshine? Maybe not.   --KEXP Song of the Day
This second EP from Scottish 2 piece jangles perfectly in a c-86 manner. 'Picture Perfect' is a twee 60's-flavoured pop number featuring heavenly vocals from Sandra and sublime Rickenbacker guitars from Laz. It is as perfect as Lush or the recently reformed the Primitives. 'Hay in a Needlestack' is more honey flavoured and features sweet vocals from Sarah which are again backed by Laz's cool guitar playing. It is a song for carefree days. 'Celestial' is another track of C-86 fun, and jingle jangles well. It is a song to bring a smile to its listeners. 'Falling Through' has blazing guitars, and is reminiscent and as powerful as early Primal Scream. Fantastic!   --Pennyblack Magazine
Sandra and Laz (of Bubblegum Lemonade) are Strawberry Whiplash. Based in Glasgow, Scotland where everyone is in a pop band, and many of them in more than one. It’s in the blood, it’s in the water and it’s in the contract. Once described as a cross between Scottish forefathers/mothers Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash they're more like the missing link between Sarah Records and Creation Records or the point at which The Darling Buds turn into My Bloody Valentine. The duo have just released their second EP, Picture Perfect, four fuzzy tracks that jangle like a nervous skeleton while the enchanting Sandra croons like a frustrated femme fatale. An EP that's as sweet as a chocolate covered strawberry dipped in sugar and indier than Steve Lamacq's ipod. Strawberry Whiplash deserve a place in your heart.   --The Devil Has The Best Tuna
Lately I’ve been on this Primitives, Darling Buds, Rosehips kick. The last couple summer months if you’d have been over, you more than likely would have been subjected to the sweet sounds of fuzzy guitars that jangle a little and sweet vixen croons from the likes of Tracy Tracy, Andrea Lewis or Yoland. All of those bands were circa C-86, with the Primitives and Darling Buds going on a bit longer making records into the early 90’s, but largely that sound has been in hibernation since then. Sure the Manhattan Suicides and the Vivian Girls kinda sound like them, but neither was as polished or overtly poppy as their late 80’s predecessors. Luckily someone has seen fit to put together a band that puts a femme fatal singing on top of the buzz and jangle of a Rickenbacker. That someone is Laz McLuskey of Bubblegum Lemonade and his side project Strawberry Whiplash. Their second EP has just been released by Santa Barbara indiepop purveyors Matinée Records. Laz is joined in Strawberry Whiplash by Sandra who plays the role of Femme Fatal to Laz’s Fred MacMurray. Don’t worry, there’s no film noir ending where someone dies and someone goes to prison. It all ends happily, albeit too soon on their new four song EP Picture Perfect.   --The Finest Kiss
Glasgow’s Strawberry Whiplash return in September with a new EP on Matinée Recordings, their first for well over a year. The Picture Perfect EP contains four shimmery pop gems, with a really polished noise jangle to the fore – a much cleaner sound overall than 2008’s ‘Who’s In Your Dreams’. Sandra’s sweet vocals sit above some great electric strumming from Laz, who plays all the instruments. There’s even a bit of organ on ’Celestial’, which also features a nice guitar break reminiscent of ‘Velocity Girl’-era Primal Scream. Title track ‘Picture Perfect’ is the standout, with a more strident vocal and a tune that spent the whole of the last couple of days in my head. Close your eyes and it could quite easily be the summer of 87!
Once upon a time, I told you about a band from Glasgow. At the time, Strawberry Whiplash were coming off the release of their debut single “Who’s in Your Dreams” on Matinée Recordings. With it, Sandra and Laz (the same man behind Bubblegum Lemonade, also on Matinée), found an audience well prepared to be seduced by their brand of fuzzed-up C86. And now, this month, Strawberry Whiplash are back with their follow-up, the Picture Perfect EP (and, dare I say it, it nearly is). Strawberry Whiplash reach a degree of excellence in the opening measures of this EP that few bands can even dream of and, even more impressive, manage to sustain it throughout all four tracks without ever becoming pretentious. Sandra’s vocals are hypnotic and intoxicating; delivered with such a straightforward, unassuming sweetness that the listener would certainly feel like the scum of the earth for turning a deaf ear. And yet, the fuzzy (at times, even crunchy) sound of Laz’s guitar, keeps things from ever turning saccharine. And the Picture Perfect EP has the sixties stamped all over it. The title track features the perfect simple sixties drumbeat, reminiscent of just about every good song released from 1961-1965, whilst “Celestial” betrays shades of Strawberry Alarm Clock in between bursts of organ, a la The Doors. “Hay in a Needlestack”, with the prominent pairing of a glockenspiel doubling Sandra’s vocals on the refrain, is by far the pinnacle of sweetness on this EP. The EP closes with “Falling Through”, which is, quite simply, quintessentially Strawberry Whiplash. I’ve been spinning this EP since Saturday. I must have listened to it about a bazillion times by now. At 11 minutes, this is not a difficult feat to accomplish, made all the easier by the fact that the band’s trademark brand of shoegaze-y C86 is particularly easy to swallow. My only issue with this picture perfect EP is that I wish it was longer; now that would be even perfecter. You would be well advised to head over to Matinée and make your purchase as this release is limited to 1000 copies.   --The Indie Handbook
Together with these timeless pop artifacts came a shiny copy of Strawberry Whiplash's new ep. Picture Perfect is their second outing and slightly less fuzzy than Who's In Your Dreams, but ever-so-pop. The title-track is the big hit of the bunch, and with "Hay In a Needlestack" Laz continues his playful referencing of pop culture (cf. "Surfin' USB" on the recent Bubblegum Lemonade ep) helped on by some nifty 12-string picking. Sandra's vocals sound perfectly smooth throughout, upheld by seriously hook-laden melodies. "Celestial" turns up the overdrive and gives Laz the opportunity for that solo even pop guitarists itch for. "Falling Through" sounds as great as when we heard the first recording of it on Myspace all those years ago, utilising a clever variation of that Byrds riff. It's very hard for my to pick a favourite here, I guess the only solution is to buy it so that you can play all four songs on repeat!   --Heaven Is Above Your Head
On the second release from Scottish indie poppers the title track captures a cross of the sublime jangling of Heavenly and early Primal Scream and casts a sigh back to the hazy days of the mid eighties. It’s not overly reverential, just doffing its cap to a lovely time but they are investing enough of themselves in the song to make the venture seem worthwhile. The other tracks plough a similar furrow, but Celestial stands out as being a bit rougher round the edges at times, and with a cool organ mini break.   --Russell’s Reviews
If you like your music all sugary, then the folk over at Matinée have gallons of the stuff from all over the world! Strawberry Whiplash are part of that stable and are a Glaswegian duo, comprising of Laz McCluskey (who some of you will know from his alter-ego of Bubblegum Lemonade) and a lady who simply goes by the name of Sandra. Laz does all the sounds and Sandra the vocals. Essentially it’s indie pop that slips into the C86 category, which has been one of the more palatable eighties revivals of recent times. The vocals have a dreamy carefree nonchalance to them, whilst the jangly guitars set a solid backdrop of a trickling honey-drenched waterfall and for a while you can elude to summer days by the sea! The title track is very reminiscent of Lush who were at the forefront of the female-led nineties pop infused shoegaze movement. Hay In A Needlestack continues in a similar dreamy mood and is another infectious tune, with a tale of lost love, “To find a way to get you back, I find a hay in a needlestack”. “Celestial” is another sugargaze(?) venture, with an organ riff that was surely uplifted from a Teardrop Explodes number! Then the EP closes with “Falling Through” which has a sharper sound to it, giving more depth than the other songs here. All up then, the EP works on the basis of some solid song writing and its pure simplicity of execution. It’s difficult to see a full-length album, unless more variety is tapped into, but enough potential here to suggest that such a future project could be on the cards and, indeed, something to look forward to.   --Shakenstir
It's 1995 again, a time when Emma Anderson was regaling us with twee-pop as the fog of the new-found shoegaze genre misted up the waveforms. Fifteen years later, Anderson lives in Brighton, listens to The Foo Fighters, and has little time for the music scene, so the baton passes to Glasgow's Lawrence 'Laz' McLuskey and his partner-in-crime Sandra [surname unknown]. Basing their name on a combination of two local bands, Strawberry Switchblade and Meat Whiplash we realise quite quickly why they didn't opt for the alternative of 'Meat Switchblade'. Like early Lush, Strawberry Whiplash derive their style from the C-86 musical movement (a genre named after the once great New Musical Express and their compilation cassettes which distributed bands characterised by jangly guitars and fey melodies) mixed in with a healthy amount of the shoegaze aesthetic. On a par with the throwback nature of the music, lyrically we're on nostalgic turf also. The knowing smirk of "Hay in a Needlestack" proclaims: "While the sun still shines / I'm making up for lost times / Yes it's true oh and you, know it too." In short, it's sun-drenched regret and a predilection for times gone by, themes which make the yellowed-style of the instrumentation all the more appropriate. With its screaming guitars front-and-centre, perhaps "Falling Through" leans more to the My Bloody Valentine canon, yet Sandra's slightly off-kilter approach to her vocals - performed in pitch-steps as opposed to gradual inclines - keeps the mood consistent. With just four tracks to show their strength, the dwelling on the same basic concepts makes the E.P feel like an admittedly pleasant game of tether-ball. There are ups and downs to the game but you're really expected to travel a great distance. It's fun for the unadventurous with stamina issues, but it'll never be as good as proper tennis. Unlikely to ascend to heights in which the genre once basked, Strawberry Whiplash are nonetheless a giddy and comforting reminder of times gone by. The soundtrack to anyone's nostalgia trip if aged between 23-40.   --Strangeglue
They’re from Scotland, one of the group’s two members is jangly retro guitar fetishist Laz McCluskey of Bubblegum Lemonade, the other is a wispy female singer named Sandra and they’re on the Matinée label. Do I even need to tell you that this is undoubtedly the most twee thing you will hear all year? It’s easy to lunge for the inevitable C86 and Darling Buds comparisons, but considered on its own merits “Picture Perfect” is quite simply a charming slice of wistful melodic pop that instantly brightens the room. There are three other songs as well, and while they definitely take a back seat to the title track, they’re all perfectly winsome in just the right ways.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
Sweet girlie vocals, effortlessly lovely pop hooks, simple indie guitar pop this EP is a modern day C86 classic. The title track has a gorgeous acoustic driven melody, the vocals female and sweet yet also at the same time cool and disinterested. It ticks all the boxes yeah? It and tracks that follow like "Hay in a Needlestack" are maybe a bit over familiar these days, the path Strawberry Whiplash have chosen is after all a very well trodden path but when it’s done really well that’s fine, and this is done really really well.   --Trip TV
Matinée Recordings has released a new EP from Glasgow indie pop duo Strawberry Whiplash, “Picture Perfect”. This is their second release, after last year’s wonderful “Who’s In Your Dreams”. Strawberry Whiplash is Sandra and Laz, – the latter is also the man behind Bubblegum Lemonade, also on Matinée. When I listen to the wonderful title-track on this new EP, I get back the good feeling that I once had, driving around in my hometown on a sunny day, playing The Primitives loud in my car, thinking “life is good, what more than this do I ever need”.   --Eardrums
De igual modo que hay multitud de bandas dentro de un mismo estilo, tomando cada una de ellos un camino distinto en el inmenso universo en el que han querido habitar, hay infinidad de objetivos por perseguir, siendo perfectamente lícitos todos ellos. Sin embargo aquí nos resulta particularmente sencillo quedar seducidos por aquellas almas que tan sólo aspiran a crear el single, la canción, la melodía, el estribillo….perfectos. Muchos suspiran por alcanzar esa especie de satisfacción personal que parece ser el Lp, en otros tiempos un objetivo prácticamente irrealizable, pero hoy día al alcance de la mano para muchos que terminarán vendiendo unas pocas cientos de copias de un trabajo largo que muchas veces les queda grande. Lejos quedan los tiempos en los que el 7” en formato single o Ep eran en si mismos la máxima aspiración de toda buena banda de Indie Pop, hoy esto parece muy distante, pero permanece inalterada la máxima de que el Ep es el formato ideal como vía de expresión del Pop, del Indie Pop en particular. Nada como tener entre nuestras manos a una banda que en tres o cuatro canciones tiene la obligación de hacernos creer en ellos, poniendo en ese pequeño artefacto que es el Ep todo el genio del que son capaces. Strawberry Whiplash puede que algún día se atrevan con todo un Lp. Laz, figura determinante del grupo, y a su vez responsable único de la música de Bubblegum Lemonade, ya ha debutado en formato largo, pero antes siempre transitó por la brevedad de los pequeños singles. Y parece que la jugada sigue siendo la misma con su segunda banda, ya que Picture Perfect Ep es el segundo intento de Strawberry Whiplash con este pequeño formato, siempre a la búsqueda de deslumbrar con apenas diez cortos pero intensos minutos de una música que se nos antoja irresistible. En esta ocasión cuatro vuelven a ser los temas destinados a completar el segundo Cd-Ep de los escoceses; Picture Perfect da título al disco, y no es mera coincidencia, nos encontramos con el corte más breve del disco, pero a fe que aprovecha sus poco más de dos minutos de duración, la aniñada voz de Sandra ofrece el contrapunto perfecto a las guitarras de querencia fuzz a las que tan aficionado es Laz. A poco que nos descuidemos nos vemos envueltos en una maraña de cuerdas que sólo dan tregua cuando la chica del dúo decide imponerse de manera definitiva creando un pequeño hit de esos a los que tan acostumbrados nos tiene el sello Matinée Recordings. En esta ocasión recordándonos el sonido de todos esos grupos con-chica-al-frente que se adueñaron de los finales 80’s. Hay In A Needlestack es el momento más dulce alumbrado hasta la fecha por la pareja, nuestra pieza favorita de todo el disco, Sandra vuelve a ser determinante, abocándonos a la más absoluta placidez mientras nos abandonamos a su voz relajados en el sofá de casa, diez sobre diez. Celestial es 100% Laz, no resultado complicado darse cuenta de que es uno de esos temas que disfruta interpretando, las guitarras se suceden, el fuzz sube, y desde Matinée hasta se acuerdan de los memorables Popguns, lo cierto es que a Sandra le falta mucho para alcanzar la intensidad de Wendy Morgan, y el sonido de Strawberry Whiplash no es tan orgánico como el de Popguns, pero en la distancia es una comparación muy acertada. Finalmente, a Falling Through le corresponde cerrar este Picture Perfect Ep, y lo hace dando un repaso estupendo a todas los detalles que conforman el sonido del grupo, dejándonos con un buen sabor de boca. Picture Perfect Ep resulta tan recomendable como en su día lo fue Who’s In Your Dreams, o como puede ser cualquier grabación de Bubblegum Lemonade. Poco a poco Laz va reuniendo una cantidad de composiciones dignas de las mejores figuras del Indie Pop, y si por ahora sus dos grupos no son todo lo conocidos, o más bien reconocidos, que debieran se debe al mero hecho de seguir insistiendo en un formato cada vez menos comercial como es el del Cd-Ep. Desde aquí seguiremos recomendando cada nueva referencia que estos escoceses nos hagan llegar, sintiéndonos plenamente identificados con esta manera de hacer las cosas que tanto nos agrada.   --360º de Separación
Appena si entra nel sito della Matinèe Records ecco che sull'homepage ti compare subito una scritta che fa: "Matinèe Records - 10 years of certified pop! recordings". In effetti questa espressione alla label americana calza davvero a pennello, grazie ad una serie di uscite davvero impeccabili e alla presenza in catalogo di alcune band formidabili come Lucksmiths, Cats On Fire e Would Be Goods. E così ecco che a rafforzare il motto dell'etichetta di Santa Barbara ci pensano gli Strawberry Whiplash, duo scozzese composto da Laz McCluskey, già a capo del progetto Bubblegum Lemonade e Sandra. Finora hanno pubblicato soltanto due ep, l'ultimo davvero splendido si chiama Picture Perfect ed è un vero e proprio tuffo nel passato, dove le melodie zuccherine della C-86 vengono "sporcate" dalle chitarre fuzz delle Rosehips, mentre Sandra fa il verso a Tracey Louise Cattell delle Primitives. Tuttavia è bello vedere che qualcuno stia riscoprendo questa fantastica era musicale, impreziosendola ed aggiornandola, ed io, con somma gioia, ringrazio.   --Frigopop