Thursday, 14 October 2010

crocodile rock!

in the summer of 2008, crocodiles, darlings of the american indie underground, released their first single neon jesus to acclaim that was much founded on their previous bands' reputation. crocodiles peers no age deemed it one of the singles of the year; the right ears were taking notice and before long, crocodiles became the buzz band of the moment.

two years down the line and the crocs, consisting of vocalist brandon welschez and guitarist charles rowland, have just released their second long-player produced by hard-hitter james ford (klaxons, artic monkeys, simian mobile disco). this alone should have enough hipsters wetting their pants and release a torrent of a+rs from major labels scrambling for a third album deal with the boys from san diego...

whereas, 2009's summer of hate was an arty, lo-fi affair filled with bratty songs of isolation and mistrust, sleep forever finds crocodiles emerging from their grassroots-punk foundations to embrace a bigger, more swaggering sound. clearly hooking up with ford at the helm has proven beneficial, as opening track mirrors can attest; it's swelling, droning guitars a testament to loveless-era my bloody valentine and the vocals that cut through the noise not too dissimiliar from our british institution that is liam gallagher.

critics of crocodiles have been quick, too quick some might say, to point the finger at their influences firmly in the direction of jesus and mary chain and my bloody valentine; that noisy, almost incoherent guitar sound and shoegaze sentiment raises its head on abum title track sleep forever and this might be where this second record finds its biggest flaw.

in summer of hate, crocodiles recognised the need and urgency of hook-laden singles, the fizz and excitement of songs like soft skull and refuse angels which made them so neccessary has kind of waned here on sleep forever. although the record itself sounds larger and more encompassing, easily sitting alongside its contemporaries such as the horrors' 2009's primary colours, the listener flails inbetween the obvious singles, and after a while you begin to wonder whether the album is going anywhere through all the drone.

whether or not this was a deliberate attempt to shake off the diy shackles of their 2009 opus, crocodiles have matured on this record but at cost of their snotty punk racket they were so well known for. welschez and rowland are both very capable of writing and producing massive songs; you can hear them wanting to ooze out of the fuzz on sleep forever, but the din keeps them contained and under wraps.

there's no doubt that a third record is likely to appear by mid-2011, and by then they'll be on the up-and-up. how big, however, depends on their insistence on using a sound that has both found them and got them lost in the process on this second release, and whether they want to escape the avant-gardist comfort blanket that's got them this far.

for fans of: the horrors, my bloody valentine, primal scream.

[morgan hewitt]

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