Full of rousing, riotous, rebellious, roughshod anthems…
Mischa Pearlman 2012
Trace the history of rock’n’roll and it becomes clear that, on a very basic level, there’s a simple, traceable lineage – band after band after band influencing each other, directly or tangentially, to create some vague progression of musical ideas and ideologies.
Without the blues, there would be no Led Zeppelin; without Elvis Presley, no Bruce Springsteen. It goes on and on. Of course, there’s a difference between building on influences and plagiarising them, between imitating and, to paraphrase an old Hugo Boss advertisement, innovating.
Crowns are stuck somewhere in between those two methodologies. The self-styled ‘fish punks’ – formed in Cornwall but residing in London – were born in 2010, and owe the majority of their sound to an odd, and slightly jarring mixture of traditional Cornish folk songs, Pogues-esque jubilation, Joe Strummer-like vocals and some Billy Braggish social awareness. In other words, they’re a bit like Levellers, just with deeper, gruffer vocals.
Naturally, then, Stitches in the Flag is full of rousing, riotous, rebellious, roughshod anthems that channel the spirit and the energy of those idols. The majority of these 11 songs are full of foot-stomping, beer-swilling, get-another-round-in-before-the-pub-calls-time exuberance, alcoholic odes to years lost and days gone by, with an undercurrent of desire to smash the status quo and create a new world order.
So, there’s the opening title track, Boscastle Breakdown, Safe Train Home, China Clay, and… well, several more thigh-slapping rambunctious tunes that, though brimming with effervescent energy, all blur together, whether on the first listen or the tenth. The one song which stands out is My London, a slower, maudlin ode to their adopted city which breaks the mould of the rest of the album, and which is the only distinctive tune here.
All of which makes this a debut record that valiantly tries, but doesn’t quite manage, to stand on the shoulders of this band’s heroes and their heritage. Perhaps next time.