Crocodiles – Sleep Forever : Album Reviews
A band that purports to be art-rock pop (or anything vaguely similar) is almost certainly welcoming endless bundles of criticism, usually involving words such as pretentious, unoriginal, and frighteningly contrived. And although I have little to no anecdotal evidence that this has ever been a problem for Dan Diego garage duo Crocodiles, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that these nasty words may have been levelled at them at some stage throughout their career thus far. Yet, with James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) behind the desk this time around for their second LP Sleep Forever, these lads have stumbled across a deeper aesthetic within their brooding sound that they can legitimitely claim as their own.
This, their second LP Sleep Forever further explores that dark sound that often polorizes people to extreme levels. On one hand, there are those who are enveloped ebb and flow of such a metronomic sound, claiming that it’s the subtlety of the precise instrumentation that defines its genius – the rest just disregard it completely as waste of time (and money spent on sunglasses and chorus pedals). And I suppose there is worthiness in both of these sentiments. Yet, a band like Crocodiles who are first and foremost an art-rock act, adopt other influences and incorporate different elements in their sound, the result can be truly formidable, which Sleep Forever certainly is.
Their often dark lyrics are well complimented by their slow burning and haziness-driven tunes. Much in the way The Velvet Underground popularised the anti-west coast music of their time, Crocodiles appear to embracing a much more brooding and maccarbre side of existence, as is evident in their choice of front cover.
Album opener Mirrors is a well-orchestrated drone that surrounds the listener with whirlwind-like haziness. The overall positive vibe of the scratching guitars and plodding bass provide the perfect basis for some tremendous psychadelic harmonies, which is a recurring theme on Sleep Forever.
Hearts Of Love boasts one of the finest, yet simplest chorus refrains I’ve heard in a while. At the core of this unique love song we get the typical dark and slightly unsettling imagery that we’ve come to expect from Crocodiles as they discuss finding their hearts of love “wounded on the floor”.
The most poignant moment of the record is reserved for All My Hate and My Hexes Are For You, as the abrasiveness takes a back seat for this casio-infused ballad, while first single Sleep Forever launches their psychadellic sound of choice, yet disappointingly, isn’t one of the most inspiring tracks to make the cut.
Sleep Forever isn’t the most accesible album to begin with. Like any art-rock project, you can guarantee that the majority of the songs will sound quite similar, the song formation itself won’t be that expansive, and the whole album will be shrouded in massive amounts of cacophonous-reverb doom-and-gloom. However, the best part is, once you get past these initial quirks, you are exposed to a vast landscape of earnest songwriting that harnasses the power of repetitiveness and simple-well structured chord progressions to discuss the complexities of love, releationships and rocking out.
Much like The Velvet Underground (with Nico), Crocodiles manage to channel the popular surf and sun sounds of the west with the stark reality of the east-coast in one polished and fascinating masterpiece.