Abe Vigoda Crush Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Explores the dark, suburban-gothic shades always loitering beneath their surface glimmer.

Kev Kharas 2010

Enthusiasm is not loyal to happiness. In 2008, Abe Vigoda shot a video for Skeleton, a track that shared a name with the album it was taken from. The track itself is raucously upbeat, dual guitars like golden vines twisting around themselves, gang vocals sharing a chorus propulsive drums whip into delirium.

The video, though, was oddly jarring – the LA group who, from unremarkable no-wave beginnings, reached a sound on that album they happily described as "tropical punk", meet the camera’s lens as glum, lonely powder-white faces set against a black background their dark clothes sink into. Released online the day before Halloween, the quartet is made up for the carnival, their eyeballs forlorn inside kohl moats even as the music works itself into euphoria. Crush cedes none of that enthusiasm, but busies itself exploring the dark, suburban-gothic shades always loitering just beneath surface glimmer that set Abe Vigoda apart from the rest of the bands they were supposed to share a scene with.

The most striking difference is the way guitarist Michael Vidal’s voice now stands alone amid the clamour. There was a warning – last year’s Reviver EP hinted at Crush’s sad-eyed surge – but the oddness is accentuated here by more rigid drum patterns and fluttering synth sounds torn from the sweetly depressive UK new-wave groups of the 1980s (The Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen). Throwing Shade and Dream of My Love (Chasing After You) are cases in point, both moving Vidal to sing about "wearing masks" and "not walking for a week" in a quivering, choked-up mewl. When the music clatters, the contrast’s a moving one: Vidal sounding harried and hassled by his own band’s momentum.

The mood gets more emotionally intense as Crush progresses, its title-track a rush of fume, the lightness of Beverly Slope’s heavy heart making it the best thing here, Repeating Angel and To Tears lit up by vocals like David Bowie and guitars like Johnny Marr. Abe Vigoda have always loved The Smiths, but here, without Skeleton’s sunlit sheen, it’s easier to detect. It’s about the one thing that is, as the band drives on ardently into their own, internal murk. You’ll turn yourself into a tragedy if you’re anything other than utterly ready to follow.

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