Crocodiles attempt to bear their teeth with new release
One of the most irritating things about hipster-oriented hype is how much current bands derive their sounds from their predecessors. Editors, an English band with two or three albums under its belt, is commonly referred to as “Boy Division” due to their lack of originality. Pitchfork bands often sound like Sonic Youth knockoffs messing around in parents’ basements, and the folk-pop has the feel of early Belle & Sebastian with little meaning. Crocodiles, a noise-based act formed in 2008, is still one of these artists. But some metamorphosis (albeit only a smidge) comes through in “Crimes of Passion,” released late last month on French Kiss Records.
Without a doubt, my biggest beef with Crocodiles is they mold their image around Scottish pioneers The Jesus & Mary Chain. Comprised primarily of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell, the California act brought a derivative, lackluster sound to the indie scene with their debut album, “Summer of Hate.” Their second and third albums were built around the same vibe, all the way down to the duo’s teased hair and sunglasses, making for another overhyped, disappointing concoction.
While “Crimes of Passion” only expands the group’s horizons by an inch or two, the album isn’t a complete waste. “Cockroach” may sound like any number of tracks pulled from the Chain’s “Automatic”-era, but Crocodiles comes into their own with the sonic fun of tracks like “Un Chant d’Amour,” a lullaby that pulls the group away from their summertime blues. The first half of the album is fun in all its fuzzy glory, with unpolished sounds weaving their way around potential summer anthems. But by the end the listener finds it tiresome, a repetitive and pretentious testament to the scene in which the group involves itself. The post-punk sounds so often emulated by Crocodiles and other bands of the era is what disrupts the potential for a cohesive, original work.
The band’s only hope rests on the shoulders of its evolution. Despite their derivative nature, all members show a considerable degree of talent. The vocals, rhythms and casual nature of the group give it a certain youthful appeal, and there’s a slew of prospects found in those preceding noise-rock albums. But, as with most indie acts, it remains to be seen whether Crocodiles will be forced to swim the same river as those so set on producing the same sounds as their predecessors.
Stream the whole album here.