It’s no secret that The Strypes’ style is heavily influenced by the rock and rollers of years past, veering more towards The Rolling Stones and their peers. Considering they’re still in their teen years, it was an unexpected way to go, though as they get closer to their 20s it starts to feel less like a gimmick than it did for their first album. The music was definitely a pleasant surprise the first time around, and Little Victories is far from terrible, but it isn’t quite as convincing the second time around.
On the plus side, there are some seriously strong songs on the album. Eighty-Four is notable for its chorus, with the vocal hook in particular being the most engaging part; the instrumental in the choruses isn’t as strong and feels somewhat at odds with the more playful verses, but the different strengths of both parts of the song add up for something overall enjoyable. Status Update shows off their harmonica skills again, standing out merely for its inclusion, but strengthened by the minimal bouncy arrangement, relying more on song writing and production than walls of instruments to sell the point. Scumbag City ends the album on a strong note, with some of the best guitar riffs to be found.
In the long run, it’s easily more of the same from The Strypes. It almost feels like they’re sticking too close to their source material, somewhere between The Rolling Stones and Arctic Monkeys, without much of an identity to call their own aside from their youth. Songs sound good in an individual context, but defining features and truly notable lyrics are few and far between. This isn’t a game breaker; you might find yourself listening to select songs after experiencing the album for the first time, and everything’s at least decent. The problem is that it’s decent more often than it is truly amazing.
This is really what makes Little Victories a confusing case, rather than a clear-cut case of saying whether it’s good or not. With the youth of the members, you could easily call it a growing experience. They’ve definitely got the skills necessary to make something really good, but they might just not be there yet. As it stands right now, Little Victories closely straddles the line between a great album and a dime a dozen experience. There’s room for improvement, but considering the circumstance it’s an alright place to be.