Strypes - “The Difference” (1986)

This is another of the 1980s Seattle-area records I picked up a few weeks back from Hi-Voltage Records. Hailing from Tacoma, Washington, the Strypes had a decently long career as a popular touring band throughout the 1980s, apparently particularly notable for their fanbase in Asia. The Difference was their only full-length record, one the band self-released in 1986 after having put out three 7″ singles during the first half of the decade.

The Difference reveals a band that is quite tight - the songs are cleanly recorded and everyone clearly knows their place. Much of the material has that mid-80s pop-rock sound about it, that absorption of new wave into the mainstream. That being said, they do have some edgier moments, most notably on “Dead Stop”. Holly and I were talking the other day about whether one can listen to an album for the first time and identify “the hit”, and “Dead Stop” is actually an example of this - I latched onto that jam immediately the first time I heard it, and when I subsequently did some research learned that it was originally released as a single-sided 7″ the year before and was the only one of their prior singles that Strypes included on The Difference, so clearly they thought it was great and recognized the need to put it on the album. I don’t share this to imply that I’m some kind of music savant, because I’m clearly not. But it does support the idea that a better-than-average song is quite often immediately recognizable as such.

Is The Difference dated? Sure, to some extent. I mean, while there are still bands making 80s style hard rock and metal, poppier fare tends to move on without a lot of looking back. Strypes did a reunion concert as recently as 2014, and given the opportunity to see them live in the future I’d certainly consider going.

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