Crocodiles Are Still Trying to Find Themselves
According to Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell of Crocodiles, the goal of their latest album, Dreamless, which is being released via Zoo Music, was progression. This was an understandable target. Over the course of a seven year, five album run, nearly every piece of music they produced has been accused of being derivative, with critics citing forbears The Jesus and Mary Chain as an oversaturating influence. It’s been a hard charge to refute. Whether their imitative habits have been a product of misguided reverence or a simple lack of creative energy, they have now put themselves in the spotlight by suggesting that they’re ready for change. Dreamless is their chance to show what other tricks they’ve got in the bag, yet over the course of 10 songs, their attempt to find a unique identity repeatedly stalls out.
When Welchez and Rowell set out to make the album, they decided in the beginning that they would try to minimize the use of guitars as a way of forcing change. Oddly, they decided to fill that self-made vacuum with soundbites that approximate the audio effects on an old Casio keyboard. “Welcome to Hell”, the album’s third track, functions as a sort of testing ground for these sounds: the song bounces along to the beat of a cartoonish drum kit, while cuing obscure UFO noises and shrill shots from a laser. Other experimental tracks, like “Alita”, a roiling and slightly haunted song, or “Go Now”, a quiet, simmering piece, posses strong identities but sit awkwardly in the company of distortion and synth driven tracks. The album’s final song, “Not Even In Your Dreams”, is completely different from everything that precedes it, featuring a genial, raucous piano riff and harmonized “ahh’s” in the style of ’60s summertime jams. It’s somewhat of a head-scratching send off given the generally dark energy of the 9 songs that came before it.
It’s possible that Crocodiles are too deep down the Jesus and Mary Chain rabbit hole to strike off and create something unique. While Dreamless might be a slight move away from their previous work, it’s a strange step and they land nowhere definitive. However, there’s one undeniable thing about Crocodiles: they’re prolific. Perhaps on their next album they manage to capture the energy they’ve been looking for.