Crocodiles: Sleep Forever Review (Four Takes)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are four reactions, four impressions, Four Takes on Sleep Forever by Crocodiles.
C. Hontana (Food Pyramid)
Crocodiles’ 2nd album continues with the Jesus and Mary Chain worship that defines this band’s recorded output. They’ve added some electronics and wall of sound production techniques, and have taken a few more liberties with the songwriting, but ultimately the atmosphere and aesthetics alone can’t carry this album’s weight. Sleep Forever is too burdened with its own self-consciousness that it (like the band’s last album) can’t rise above the single band that it emulates. True, there are elements of the originality of its creators and of other musical influences, but when you have Psychocandy and Darklands why would you want to listen to this? My only explanation is that they appeal to a cross-section of the music buying/downloading public that is too young to haveappreciated the original thing. This naivety allows fans to accept (without question) a cheap, second-hand replica updated to fit current musical trends. The greatest thing about JAMC was that they embraced an era of pop music’s past with an idiosyncratic attitude and vision. The same can’t be said of Crocodiles, because while they too embrace an era of pop music’s past, they don’t have the purpose or imagination that made that past so compelling.
Mike Watton (Haunted House)
Crocodiles wore sunglasses inside last year at their Seventh Street Entry show. As anyone who has been there knows, it’s an extremely black room. But this is how they roll. And it comes across in their recorded material. They’re trying to create an aesthetic of dark cool, and they succeed. Unfortunately, like their choice of nightime eye wear, it feels very self-conscious. They go back and forth between too nice or too down and scary, and either way it comes across as a business decision. Not that they’re looking for the limelight, but it does seem like they could’ve sat around a table and made a plan for what emotions they wanted to bring to the album, possibly using charts and spreadsheets. In the two minute introduction to the opening track “Mirrors,” there’s a lot of intrigue and potential for some brutally interesting pop. But instead of taking off into the air, the plane immediately crashes into a candy shop when the verse kicks in, and the album never truly regains that potential. That’s because they’re obsessed with one idea, and they don’t havethe artistic chops to pull it off. Behind those sunglasses are the eyes of a cartoon deer. They don’t seem familiar with the necessary danger and desperation to make the album they’d like to.
Howard W. Hamilton III (Red Pens)
I love worshiping Jesus and Mary Chain as they are my all time favorite. Crocodiles love it too, last year’s “summer of hate” was practically a tribute to Psychocandy, thatsall you could think of when listening to it. This time around on “sleep forever” they sound more original and way more polished without being too slick for their own good. Last I checked this was a two piece band and a youtube video I saw showed them fiddling with an ipod for backing tracks andthe liveshow was pretty much two guys trying to pull of the great songs on the debut with so-so results. I think this time around they might have a few more bodies on stage to pull these songs off. Like someone handed them Pet Sounds and some Suicide tapes. They sound more like the Raveonettes this time with a little more guts and even smarter lyrics. Sleep forever is a great record. Dirty, tasteful, hip and smarmy all in the best ways possible.
I know I probably shouldn’t like Crocodiles. Their sound, both on their debut record and their sophomore release, Sleep Forever, are thinly veiled Jesus and Mary Chain rip-offs. Their live show at the Entry last year featured two pompousassholes who looked like they were desperately trying to look like Lou Reed but played songs backed by an ipodthat sounded like shit. They wore leather jackets and sunglasses when they are inside. At night. Yet despite doing nearly everything that they can to be the stereotypical band that I hate, I can’t get enough of them. With songs like the demented “Hollow Hollow Eyes,” the hazy, fuzzed out “Mirrors” and the rambunctious pop of “Billy Speed,” I can’t help but be enamored. Maybe it is because the sound they so blatantly rip off is one I love, but I findtheir second release as consistentlyrewarding as their first. While I understand how, and why, people won’t like this band, Sleep Forever will be joining Summer of Hate as an album that I think I will find myself listening to over and over again both in the near and distant future, even if the guys do seem a little bit like jack-offs and aren’t particularly inventive or cutting edge. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?
Sleep Forever is out now on Fat Possum