They could be called as Boy George's sisters, Siouxsie Sioux's cousins and made out of polka dot fabrics.
Who else would I be talking about if not Strawberry Switchblade? Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson, two girls from Glasgow that formed a band in 1981, from which reached success in 1984/1985.
What drawn me the most to these two Gothic Lolita godmothers was probably their look. Besides their own natural beauty, of which I still envy, I also was jealous of their closet, their hair ribbons, the flowers and garlands in their voluminous ripped hair (as it was usual and a fashion on the 1980's) of the polka dots, lace and all the exotic glamour that they emanated and transmitted to me. Yet, once I heard their debut album, debut and last album, Strawberry Switchblade, I fell in love with their innocent, shrill and jangling voices that belonged to Rose and Jill, I fell for the pop and cutie atmosphere of the album and the lyrics, for the electronic-ish sounds, so charasteristic of the 1980's. Still, above everything, I fell in love with the ability they had of making good pop music.
Going back to their home town, Glasgow spawned most of my favourite bands, and to me, there is a small group of glaswegian bands that makes bad music.
As to the album in itself, the second track, Deep Water, is possibly one of my favourite songs of the whole album, and of all time. First, it is because they have the jingle and the whole tinkle of the wind-chimes that are, usually, placed in the porch and wind-chimes remind me of rainy days. Second, because the whole sonority of Disintegration (especially on Plainsong) by The Cure, which is one of my favourite albums ever, brings me back to those exact sounds. And third, because the lyrics are inspired by the situation of being underwater, of drowning (which reminds me of legendary characters like Ophelia, the tormented lady from Hamlet by Shakespeare) and also, inspired by the misty riddle and mystery that lays beneath deep veils of water of rivers, seas, lakes, etc.
|Strawberry Switchblade, 1985|
|Trees and Flowers, EP|
Another track that catches my sudden attention is Who Knows What Love Is, that leaves me in this immediate sensation of a young teenager singing and not the woman that Rose already was back then. It leaves me in this feeling of comfort and warmth maybe because the melody of the song provokes those feelings. Black Taxi and Michael Who Walks By Night are two songs that evoke me mystery and the nocturnal life, such as pubs and clubs. Those two are also one of my favourite tracks on the album, that also have these reminiscences of Japanese Whispers by The Cure.
Last but not least, Trees and Flowers are one of my favourite songs by this new wave duo (followed by Deep Water). It's a song about the fear of buildings, of tall buildings (agoraphobia) that Jill Bryson felt, yet according to my perspective, the lyrics are kind of ironic because I absolutely love flowers and trees and I sing this song as if I actually hated them. Maybe that happens due to the "expressiveness of the figure of speech". As to the melody of the song, the guitars and the instrumental part is really adorable and cutie, and they make me feel the same way as I do when I listen to Who Knows What Love Is?.
|Rose and Jill: Trees and Flowers cover photo session.|
|Rose and Jill: Trees and Flowers cover photo session|
|Rose McDowall, Trees and Flowers cover photo session|
|Strawberry Switchblade, live at Leeds in 1984. How lucky the audience was!!|
|On a TV show|
|Rose on the set of the "Since Yesterday" video|
|On the dressing room. Front: Jill; Back: Rose|
|Jill and Rose|
|Rose, left. Jill, right|
All photos are courtesy of Peter McArthur taken from their official website: http://strawberryswitchblade.net