Four years on and it’s been a damn near perfect run from Aussie outfit The Stroppies. Less ragged and loose than many of their peers, the band taps into the kind of woozy pop amalgam that pushed The Chills and Toy Love towards the top of the pile decades prior. Without diving into punk’s angst and post-punk’s simmering brood, few, aside from perhaps Twerps, have captured the raw-wire indie that found root in Australia and New Zealand in the ‘80s, and tumbled into the ‘90s. The addition of new member Zoe Monk rounds out the band’s sound, adding textures that escaped the band prior — shivers of keys and a thickened porridge of rhythm guitar added in the mix. With Monk tossed into the tracks the sound of The Stroppies wobbles less, but it’s more than just the lineup shift, the band sounds like they’re hitting stride on Levity. They’re sure of who they are and which crops they want to cop from.
The vocal swaps between Angus Lord and Claudia Serfaty are more assured and more frequent this time, melding into harmonies that blur slightly but don’t bristle the way they have in the past. I’ve long been a fan of the slightly askew nature of Aussie pop — an aversion to glossed perfection that feels like a book with rough cut pages. On Levity they fit their lines together with a slight quiver that ripples through the speakers. The harmonies hug like old friends sauntering home after a night out. The band wraps its riffs around in taut circles, balances synth squiggles on top, and then power the pulse with a crack rhythm duel that’s understated but insistent. The vocals sneer and smirk. Lyrics chew on their fingertips, exhale like the world weighs on them, and then get stubbed out on the stoop before another wound wire inversion of guitar. Whoosh found the band embracing their songcraft, but Levity is where The Stroppies lock it down.