The Classic Crime


Written by: DR on 13/04/2010 01:52:00

A bands third album is generally a crucial one, perhaps more so if their sophmore happened to be pretty excellent, as in this case. How do they top it? Do they even dare attempt to, or do they decide to pull something out of their hat that we weren't expecting? The Classic Crime have taken it upon themselves to not wrestle with those questions, and instead continue with what they do best: alternative "radio rock". BUT, and this is important, this time around they are laying all their cards on the table.

"Vagabonds" is honest. I think you'll agree upon listening that Matt MacDonald's sincerity (I'll be using that word, or words akin to that, a lot throughout this review) is a welcome breath of fresh air amidst the soul-less bands that have taken over the radio-waves; bands that pretend to sing about "real" things, but inevitably have about as much believability as [insert celebrity fame-whore here]'s marriage - and hold about as much of one's interest, too. "Protect me from insincerity / From between their teeth it's practically oozing / Their eyes are hollow and blind they're always wasting my time".

"I may not have a perfect voice / but I’ll still sing at the top of my lungs". True to his word, he does, and when he does, it's hard not to sell yourself to it. See, MacDonald reaches such heights of sincerity that you never once question whether or not he really means what he's singing. There are the occasional, and somewhat typical, confessions of heartbreak: "Love is a terrible art, it’s a hook in the heart / That can drag you on broken glass / And as you protest the shards in your flesh / The hook tears out your chest until you’re just a broken mess".. Love, and the loss of, isn't dallied on for all that long, so don't roll your eyes at the done-to-death notion that love sucks. There's also the admissions of his unanswered questions to God (they are a Tooth & Nail band, afterall): "Give me one good reason to believe I’m not alone / I will wait for You to answer me / I’ve never been much for smoke and mirrors so I need a hand to hold." And there's "Four Chords", which, with a little help of a few aptly chosen "oh oh ohs", ends with a chorus that's as catchy as the Cold. Again, however, it's their great levels of radio-playability that makes the song worth repeated listens, but crucially how MacDonald says, and we can all relate to this, that despite a sometimes shitty life, music can make everything okay.

I realise that I have banged on about the vocalist and how this album is him letting off steam, but he steals the show, and is just about the only reason to listen to this album. No disrespect to the guys who play the instruments, as they are very, very good at what they do - from the jazzy-intro to "Solar Powered Life", to the delicate acoustic intro of "Broken Mess" - you can clearly hear they have talent, but they lack the real creativity that forces the listener to take notice of The Classic Crime for more than the frontman. "Cheap Shots", one of their best songs ever, is the ultimate example of this; decent musicianship, but you're listening for the desperation-soaked voice in that chorus, that really hits home.

"Vagabonds" is The Classic Crime's best album to date. On first listen, it may not seem like it, but listen again, and you'll understand that it's done a little bit better, and far more sincere, than most of the anthemic "radio rock" out there - something they didn't quite achieve with their past releases. Could this be their year? Quite plausibly, because you'll be hoping for them to succeed when they sing "We will take our airwaves back".


Download: Cheap Shots, Four Chords, Vagabonds
For The Fans of: Anberlin, Emery, Ivoryline, The Spill Canvas
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 06.04.2010
Tooth & Nail Records

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