The backstory to The Crookes begins as a chance encounter when the original band members found each other dancing alone in a Sheffield club. Fast forward six years and now they’re now an indie rock band recording their third album on Fierce Panda Records but the loneliness still remains their constant inspiration.
Sonically, The Crookes are cut from a similar cloth as Chapel Club, in their first album guise. They have a distinctive frontman, duelling guitarists and a widescreen epic rock sound and the doleful ‘Echolalia’ really does sound like a Chapel Club pastiche. Lead single and first track ‘Play Dumb’ could be considered their anthem but in truth there are many contenders. Here, the twin attack of jangly and jagged guitars prompts George Waite to croon and brood on inner turmoil. ‘Don’t Put Your Faith In Me’ revels in the role of the loser too, confidently proclaiming “you can count on me to fuck it up” but even though the production and words belong to the modern era, the guitars can be back-dated to the rock and roll years.
After a breathless opening of incisive indie pop, some space is required and ‘Holy Innocents’ duly arrives. It’s just Waite and a piano for ninety minutes before the band lend subtle but trademark reverb-heavy support. Naturally the quartet had to name a track ‘Outsiders’ but its impassioned cries of defiance (“Everyone you love will leave you in the end. Oh if we’re gonna die let’s go all the way”) could well be another set text for the next set of lonely dancers in South Yorkshire. There is a tendency for the songs to merge into each other a little too easily so the introduction of the fuzzed-up, gritty ‘Marcy’ is a rude but welcome interruption, whilst the low-slung rhythms of the title track brings events to a classy close.
Concentrating on lyrics alone you would have thought these were the words of a doomed folk/blues singer but it’s to the band’s credit that their music is infectious, lively and surprisingly hopeful sounding. If they cut loose a bit more on the next record and smear some mud on the production, their songs of solitude should have the necessary edge to appeal to even more outsiders too.
Chapel Club, The Smiths