Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion

crimesofpassionRating: ★★★½☆

When looking at the musical history of Crocodiles, you can say there have been three stages.  The first stage has roots in the records one and two, filled with reverb and a wash of noise.  Then they started to clean things up a little bit on Endless Flowers, and they’ve finally progressed to the the latest stage with Crimes of Passion, creating a collection of songs that wears their influences boldly whilst pushing further into the realms of pop sensibility.

On my first jam to “I Like It in the Dark,” I really thought this was some experimental version of early Brit-pop.  The vocals definitely wear that influence, as do the piano touches jumping in and out of the track.  It’s clear at this point that Crimes of Passion is still to go further into pop songwriting, although I appreciate that they haven’t completely abandoned their penchant for extra layering, though this time with instruments as opposed to feedback noise.  Surprisingly, “Marquis de Sade” cleans things up completely, giving us one of the most straightforward hits the group has composed to date, harkening to sunny Cali pop by using female backing vocals.  But, personally, I could do without the excess horn solo in there; it would ruin the song if it weren’t such a great tune all around.

I think one of the biggest changes for Crocodiles revolves around the delivery of the vocals.  You’d find the group coating the voice in the early stage, yet if you listen to “Heavy Metal Clouds” you can tell that the band are intent on making lyrics you can attach yourself to immediately.  There were glimmers of such a voice on the last LP, but they’ve been improved upon here, leaving listeners with an extra instrument to focus on…that of the voice. You’ll see the same attention to detail on “She Splits Me Up,” which just might be the prettiest song that the group has crafted to date.  Guitars on this track are angular, yet they have a tonal brightness that I find really appealing.

But, don’t think that Crimes of Passion is all shimmering pop goodness; you’ll still find songs with a bit of grit within.  “Gimme Some Annihilation” offers up the crunchiest guitar from the LP, featuring some of that trademark Crocs fuzz.  Still, while holding onto their past, it’s hard not to see that the band almost seems refreshing new with this track; it’s got an entirely different attitude now, as opposed to what you might find in the early stage. They give us noisy nods, just not too much.

Honestly, I see this as a record that’s going to sneak up and surprise a lot of people.  The band definitely tread water with their homage to Jesus and Mary Chain early on, but it seems now they’re looking forward to other popular Brit acts like the Stone Roses…seriously.  Crimes of Passion is a pop record; it just happens to be one filled with light elements of noise and experimentation, showing us all where Crocodiles once were, yet giving us a glimpse of where they are going.

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