Crocodiles released the follow up to their well-received album “Summer of Hate” on the Fat Possum label. The much-anticipated release by the San Diego noise rockers, titled “Sleep Forever” finds the band flourishing and building on their initial idea while retaining the lo-fi aspect and charm.
The brash opener “Mirrors” kicks off the album in the same vein as “I Wanna Kill” opened “Summer of Hate.” “Mirrors” is a wildly infectious track that finds the band soaked in reverb as usual, while lead singer Brandon Welchez delivers the band most memorable lyric: “There’s something in the way you crucify me that makes me smile.”
The lyrics are lightly provocative and a bit tad cliche, this is what made Crocodiles absolutely brilliant in the first place.
The second track, “Stoned to Death,” delivered with the swagger of a young Ian McCulloch. The song is indeed reminiscent to McCulloch’s Echo and the Bunnymen but with a little more sway. With a nice dose of distorted guitars and a hypnotic organ in the background, the track cruises gently into sweet oblivion.
The next track is one of the highlights of the album, the previously released “Hollow Hollow Eyes.”
Those lucky enough to have bought the split 7″ that also featured another San Diego band Dum Dum Girls got a taste of what was to come. The track could have easily been confused with a lost gem from the 60s psychedelic era.
Again, the band did not lose their gift for a memorable melody nor the knack to deliver something so familiar and making it sound so fresh.
This applies to the album’s lead single and titled track “Sleep Forever.” As a listener you feel you’ve heard this before, but you can’t put your finger on it. This does not stop the track from soaring and catapulting the band in to new heights that were only hinted on their debut.
The album, though, is far from perfect. It does have some very bland spots and songs like “Hearts of Love” and “Girl in Black” where Crocodiles are seen overindulging with weak material. Where songs from their debut like “Sleeping with the Lord” and “Here comes the Sky” were simply beautiful and stunning with their wall of sound, “Girl in Black” seems to fall flat and pale in comparison. The same can be said about “Hearts of Love.” It is a very enjoyable track but it lacks that Crocodiles’ imprint and it actually sounds like a track carried over from the band’s earlier incarnation as The Prayers.
It’s a great effort from Crocodiles and no sophomore jinx here. There are some flaws but they are simply overshadowed by the stronger material. There is a lot of potential and space for the band to explore.
With a band who wears their influences shamelessly on their sleeve, I believe we’re in for a nice surprise when Crocodiles finally stumble on a sound very much their own.