Crocodiles Sleep Forever Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A band heading towards maturity via streamlined electronic means.

Andrzej Lukowski 2010

The paradoxical thing about some of music’s more noted dealers in feedback is that their studio recordings are often as genteel as the live experience is cacophonous. This most obviously applies to shoegaze bands – frail and ethereal on record, painfully loud in person – but even the likes of the early Jesus and Mary Chain were far suppler in the studio than their deafening gigs suggested. There’s a fairly simple reason for this: where quieter strains of feedback afford an extensive, melodious palette, then at louder volumes you simply get a sort of ‘KSSSCHHSHSCHHH’ noise, which may sound pretty cool when My Bloody Valentine bash it out at 120db, but is pretty lame on a personal stereo.

Clearly this wasn’t something that especially concerned Californian two-piece Crocodiles on their 2009 debut album, Summer of Hate. A spectacularly noisy piece of work, you could fitfully make out some relatively enjoyable lo-fi melodies buried beneath its screaming guitars. But really, its nine subtlety-free tracks weren’t so much a statement of artistic intent as advance warning of Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez’s absurdly loud live show.

Second time out, and the duo are mindful of the fact they should probably try and do more than make a ‘KSSSCHHSHSCHHH’ noise this time. With Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford behind the desk, the thick, fizzy motorik of Sleep Forever opener Mirrors suggests a band heading towards maturity via streamlined electronic means. It’s something of a false dawn, but certainly Ford draws some pretty impressive organ sounds out of the duo: Stoned to Death’s roiling psyche groove nearly justifies the five-minute run time, while Hollow Hollow Eyes’s keyboard part is at least discernibly pretty good, despite the song itself basically being another ‘KSSSCHHSHSCHHH’ jobbie.

For the most part, though, the fuzz has been pulled back enough to reveal an enjoyable but hardly revolutionary set that tends to recall a more ponderous Darklands-era JAMC – see especially Girl in Black, Sleep Forever and All My Hate and Hexes Are for You. If Sleep Forever still doesn’t represent that defining artistic intent, it’s certainly a small step up on the debut, and an eminently worthwhile use of the duo’s downtime between the more important business of sending gig-goers deaf.

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