Cornish good-time punks introduce themselves.
Alistair Lawrence 2012
Young bloods with a reflective streak, Crowns make music that not only bustles with energy but also brims with a sense of place. Hailing from the British south-west, the quartet aren’t shy about talking about their roots – song titles include Bodmin Town – or drumming out rhythms that sound like they could be the backdrop to a good-natured drinking session in a pub whose locals routinely walk through the door flecked with the spray of the ocean. The fact they named their own label Ship Wreckords says it all, really.
Well, not quite. In addition to giving the impression they’d probably be okay with being dubbed ‘pasty punk’, they’re happiest when telling stories and rising above, in the best traditions of punk rock. Lead-off track Full Swing is a chirruping ballad about a homecoming across the water that dares anyone to try to suck the wind from their sails – probably literally, but it’s also a handy metaphor for their infectious optimism. Even their more lovelorn moments, such as Kissing Gates and She Swears Like a Sailor, are rallied off at such an upbeat tempo that the isolation of the lyrics are immediately blown out the water (sorry) by choruses that are sung loud and proud.
It’ll be no surprise for fans of this brand of punk rock to learn that Crowns have already been out on the road with The King Blues. Other than that obvious comparison, they bring to mind the unapologetic idiosyncrasies of Dropkick Murphys. Granted, the Irish-American diaspora has a potential market greater than Cornish punkish shanties about life on and near the open seas, but there’s nothing across the six tracks here to suggest that Crowns can’t charm a wide audience. If anything, they’ve found the perfect genre: if punk rock can’t accommodate these misfits it’s officially failed and died. Crowns don’t so much ignore trends as treat them as something that happen to other people. These songs are a warm and welcoming introduction to a world that’s as weird and wonderful as it is instantly recognisable. Heartening, impressive stuff.