In a world where Carly Rae Jepsen exists, and it takes fewer and fewer sales to break into the top 20 these days, it’s a brave band who put out an album that’s best described as a grower. An amazing grower, for sure, but a grower nonetheless.
It would be unfair to call ‘American Girls’, which was released as a free download, and first single ‘Afterglow’ false advertising for the Crookes’ second album, Hold Fast. It’s just that Hold Fast is a far more diverse offering than Chasing After Ghosts, their 2011 debut. And whilst it’s obvious from a first listen that this is undoubtedly a special album, it takes more than a few listens to pick up on every nuance; on every moment that could and should mean something to you.
‘Afterglow’, and forthcoming single ‘Maybe in the Dark’ are proof that the adopted Sheffield darlings still have it in them to produce radio-friendly indie pop hits, with the latter having something just a little bit naughty about it, with lines such as “You’re the perfect second best”. It’s naughty and wonderful.
Elsewhere, ‘The Cooler King’ shows off the boys’ developed talents, with a strong ‘50s vibe and a soundscape that’s best described as fun. Things get a bit more dramatic with the rollicking guitars of the title track, but the breezy tone that dominates much of Hold Fast returns with a vengeance in ‘Sal Paradise’ and ‘Sofie’.
Towards the end of the album, we’re treated to ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’, a song that’s fast becoming a favourite when played live. But it’s the closing track that’s really worth mentioning. ‘The I Love You Bridge’ is the kind of thing you might miss on a cursory first listen, but it’s worth paying attention to. The true story of the lyrics, the delicate guitars; it all adds up to make a beautiful song.
The Crookes prove that they’re still magicians (“it’s a magic trick / an escape from this) with their second album. It’s not necessarily the same fare as Chasing After Ghosts, but then, we wouldn’t have loved it as much if it was.