Noise duo turns down the racket (a little) for LP three.
Lou Thomas 2012-06-13
Crocodiles have not yet become toothless old beasts just yet – but the San Diego outfit has definitely softened up on this third LP.
Throughout Endless Flowers, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell (and friends) continue to blend the fuzzy and the sunny in winning ways. It’s lucky their quality control is maintained, too, as getting the noise/melody ratio wrong can have unwelcome consequences.
Compare this set with Best Coast’s recently released The Only Place and it’s evident which act has best balanced their pop with their rock. The LA duo’s effort dropped the scuzziness of their debut to produce a saccharine, safe-feeling affair. But Crocodiles unleash waves of unholy distortion between their slices of accessible noise.
Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) doesn’t just partly borrow a Sonic Youth song title, but also adopts the inspirational veterans’ uncompromising attack with vigour. The insistent, simple title-track, which includes richly odd Welchez lines like “I’ve waited here, waited in my tears / On the crooked staircase, with this melody,” is another triumph. It comes across with cool pugnacity, like The Drums after they’d spent six months learning to box.
No Black Clouds for Dee Dee is the first moment of real surprise. Presumably written about Welchez’s wife, Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny, it’s the happiest moment of the record. If Richard Hawley won a modest amount on a scratch card and celebrated by collaborating with Grandaddy, this might be the result.
For those familiar with Crocodiles’ previous lo-fi records, Hung Up on a Flower will be this album’s other track that most shocks expectations. Its immense opening line – “Under nauseous skies, the sad blue of night” – is one thing; but the looping piano riff, tambourine and reverb threaten to turn the song into a huge Doves-like anthem. Elsewhere, Bubblegum Trash is also a standout effort, a dirty pop song as perfect as sleeping in the park after a misspent afternoon.
Maybe recording their brilliantly strung-out Spacemen 3-style cover of Deee-Lite’s Groove Is in the Heart caused Crocodiles to alter their sound ahead of recording Endless Flowers; that, or perhaps they just needed a change. Whether the glibness of the latter theory is correct or not, whatever these snappy chaps did, it worked. They’ve produced an album worthy of a closer look.