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.
Download:Strawberry Whiplash – Now I Know It’s You [MP3]