Crocodiles : Sleep Forever
The cover art for Sleep Forever shows four young boys standing atop an open grave. Its purple saturation recalls the grim portraiture of Francis Bacon, as opposed to the velvet-lined sex of Prince. It’s a bleak, macabre wrapper for a bleak, macabre album. It’s also the perfect soundtrack for this coming summer.
Recorded in the famed Rancho De La Luna with James Ford (whose fingerprints are all over the new wave of British buzzbands – Arctic Monkeys, Florence etc.) manning the boards and with actual instruments replacing their synthesised counterparts, LP number two showcases a blossoming, more self-assured, Crocodiles outfit. The duo uphold their slavish devotion to the simplistic beats of the krautrock aesthetic, though this time the droning shoegaze influence (they did name their band after Echo & the Bunnymen’s debut, after all) has given way to a string of stirring pop choruses.
Bursts of Suicide-like abrasiveness still pepper the album, but these gritty impulses are kept in check by more well-rounded production and surprising, simplistic melodic hooks. Hearts Of Love, the standout track from many highlights, bounds along with what sounds like an electric jawharp, segues into a glockenspiel-threaded verse, exploding into a soaring, anthemic chorus which begs for an arm-in-arm sing-along.
Sleep Forever is a lot of fun musically, yet still bears lyricisms as gloomy as you’ll find this side of death metal. All My Hate And My Hexes Are For You is a title so over the top that it’s easy to dismiss its sincerity – that is until it is repeated over and over again in the chorus with such numbing disdain you can’t help but share the heartbreak. Stoned To Death paints a sorry picture of dead flowers in the garden of the mind and being “overdosed and self-obsessed again”, relaying the effects of a bad trip and an even worse comedown.
Presenting a potent mix of devastating simplicity and simple devastation, Sleep Forever marks a giant leap forward for the San Diegan duo. Fingers crossed last year’s cancelled visit to our shores is rectified sometime in 2011.
Crocodiles, Sleep Forever are out now through Fat Possum Records