Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: French Kiss
After Crocodiles started their life as a relatively unfocused and raw noise pop duo that referenced all the great noisy pop groups that came before them (Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, Echo & the Bunnymen), each of their albums has refined and broadened their sound more and more. After 2012's Endless Flowers took them almost as far as one could imagine into the realm of catchy pop songs slightly scuffed and dreamily rendered, they just kept going. Hiring the Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner to oversee and add his golden touch to the recordings, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell deliver their most focused and immediate album to date with 2013's Crimes of Passion, boiling the songs down to their three-chord, three-and-a-half-minute cores, with familiar-feeling melodies lifted from the JAMC songbook and noisy but not abrasive guitars filling the air.
Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez roar back onto the scene with their fourth full-length as Crocodiles. This time they've found the perfect partner in producer Sune Rose Wagner (of The Raveonettes) who tosses a fistful of Hollywood glamour all over their already glorious celebration of sex, drugs, and death. .
Crocodiles are one of the oldest creatures on the planet, with a family tree that goes back over 200 million years. They are ferocious predators, expert in the art of ambush and often attack without warning. We would be pushing the personification to assign the same attributes to San Diego’s Crocodiles, a band who, despite having a strong dose of retro influences, are about as threatening as the captive inmates at the world famous zoo that they share a home town with.
Crocodiles' fourth album in as many years, Crimes of Passion, is the San Diego noise-pop duo's most concise and sonically refined to date, taking the somewhat sunnier approach of last year's Endless Flowers and combining it with the fuzzed-out, punky aesthetic of their first two albums. With production assistance from the Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner, Crimes of Passion has a fuller, more complex sound than anything else in the Crocodiles catalogue. Instead of just a wall of scratchy reverb and pounding drums leading the charge, singer Brandon Welchez's nasally yet harmonious vocals are allowed to take center stage, supported by an array of dynamic backing instrumentation.
Crimes of Passion is really about nostalgia, a sense of longing for the golden age of rock n' roll. It pays tribute to leather jackets, dark-rimmed sunglasses and that feeling of youth that rock music gives you. Moving on beyond their drowned in sound roots in Summer of Hate and Sleep Forever, the duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell have crafted a more polished album, but one that still lingers in the shadows of their pervious works.
San Diego’s Crocodiles have been treading the line between darkness and light since their 2009 debut, ‘Summer Of Hate’. This fourth full-length is another fizzy, fuzzy, monochrome mash-up of The Jesus And Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Raveonettes. It was produced by the latter’s Sune Rose Wagner, and his stamp is all over these 10 songs, especially the sleazy guitars of ‘Virgin’ and the ironically titled lilt of ‘Heavy Metal Clouds’.
For the last four years, San Diegans Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez have been making music as Crocodiles, achieving little more than cult status. Everyone knows someone who loves them, but they haven't quite found the mass adoration of the Dum Dum Girls, the band featuring Welchez's wife, Dee Dee. Their fourth album, Crimes of Passion, is their best bet to change all that.
From their Echo and the Bunnymen-inspired moniker to their Automatic-for-the-people appropriation, Crocodiles are so studious in retracing the moves of their stoned 'n' dethroned 80s post-punk forbears that their most intriguing moments come when they aimlessly start drawing outside the lines. Note how "Hung Up on a Flower", the otherwise dirgey balladic centerpiece of last year's Endless Flowers, degenerates into two minutes of a woman nattering on in German, her voice echoing out in mutated shapes atop a bed of grimy guitar fuzz. The dying moments of "I Like It in the Dark" -- the opening track from Crocodiles' fourth LP, Crimes of Passion -- yield something equally nonsensical yet startling: The song's joyous gospel-delic groove fades out, but singer Brandon Welchez isn't quite finished talking yet, as he lets loose with an extended, a capella stream of beat-poet babble that was seemingly being drowned out all along by the boisterous song preceding it, like a dubbed-over cassette that didn't fully erase its previous contents.
Crocodiles are a noise-pop band out of San Diego who hide their candy-sweet confections under swathes of distortion and reverb, leavening the mix with a touch of sinister punk attitude and serving up the whole affair in readily digestible, three-minute nuggets. If it’s not the most original formula in the world, it’s nonetheless a pretty effective one, as these tunes prove to be satisfyingly earworm-y, at least while you’re listening to them. Admittedly, they’re a bit like cotton candy too—they don’t leave you with much when you’re finished other than an aftertaste of lingering sweetness.
Crimes of Passion is an appropriate name for the fourth studio album from the California noise pop duo Crocodiles, since they seem to advocate for feelings over logic. This isn’t a bad thing: Tracks such as “Marquis De Sade” are infectious and entirely enveloping. The whole work plays out like the soundtrack to a surfing movie, but it’s more Point Break than Endless Summer.
From the very beginning, Crocodiles have a potent vision on ‘Crimes of Passion’. It wastes no time whatsoever in twisting the dimmer switch and drawing the curtains – and that’s not hyperbolic. Within one second of pressing play, Brandon Welchez secretively drawls “I like it in the dark”, quickly making way for an entire album of sugary melodies tainted with slightly smutty touch of twilight lyricism.
The fourth record for a band is a monument of sorts, a recognition that they’re committed to developing their sound as a unit, a testament of having survived countless tours, roadblocks and hang-ups on their way to creating their art form. Indeed some of the most recognizable bands in the world have given us their most memorable moments with their fourth release; immediately, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Radiohead and R. E.
It's not just the title of this fourth album by Crocodiles that suggests they're a band with voracious carnal appetites. Just look at the song titles too: ‘Marquis de Sade’, ‘Like It In The Dark’ and so on. This continues from the cover of their last album Endless Flowers, which featured a naked man coming down a flight of stairs, flowers in hand, old chap tucked between his thighs, a rather randy look on his face.
An album from Crocodiles means an album to soundtrack that moment you’re holding beer in a plastic cup, your friend is pulling you into some backyard, and you see some guy in lobster boxers holding an inflatable pool toy in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It’s music that’s fun and belligerent, and there’s really nothing outside that. It’s probably the flamboyant attention-seeking tempo, songs tags like “Gimme Some Annihilation,” and core members Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell propensity for hip sunglasses.