Crooks UK

Are We All The Same Distance Apart

Written by: TL on 06/11/2015 17:38:56

Mostly these days, when you read about a new band, they always have a story, or perhaps a gimmick - something, sometimes apart from the music, that's meant to give you something to remember them by, amidst a sea of hundreds of artists competing for your attention. As unlikely as it has become, however, sometimes a band comes along with nothing except for a name and a sound that just hits you, and you know instantly that here's a group that's onto something. One that you have to keep an eye on. One such band is Crooks from England, who have just recently put out their thoroughly exciting debut album "Are We All The Same Distance Apart".

Despite sharing their name with at least a few other artists in different genres of music, England's Crooks figure as unusual, because they are a rare band where the application of the term post-hardcore does not just feel like it has been slapped on them in lack of a better term. The group's dramatic, fast-paced instrumentation sounds a lot like something you would expect to hear on a Touché Amoré record, often fueled by frantic punk beats and just as often broken up and turned into soaring bursts of post-rock grandeur. Crooks would sound like an extension of the "wave" movement then, if it weren't for the fact that their vocals are thoroughly clean and melodious, making for a combination that is pretty much unheard of.

What perhaps makes it come off as even more unique, is that singer Josh Rogers does not really sound like any other single singer. The tone and urgency of Silverstein's Shane Told comes to mind, while Rogers melodic tendencies lean a bit more towards the melodramatic ones of an Antony Raneri (from Bayside), yet he has higher pitch and more youthful timbre, and his distinctly British lines sound closer to his countrymen in Apologies, I Have None or Our Time Down Here (who are broken up, sadly), or even Lonely The Brave. As mentioned, though, the description should be taken with a pinch of salt, as Rogers has his own style that is indeed this hard to pigeonhole.

More importantly, though, is the urgency and explosivity found in the combination of the described vocals and instrumentation across "Are We All The Same Distance Apart". The songs twist and turn unpredictably, admittedly not always with the most obviously catchy results, but the dips in and out of desperate intensity and solemn atmospheres makes for an immediate and contagious energy. You get a taste of it instantly, on opener "Above Me", which indeed has the instrumental qualities of a pit favourite, while "What Might Have Been" initially flips the script, giving you a feel for the band's more sombre side, before suddenly racing onwards and upwards to exhilarating heights.

It's on the triplet of "Schöne Seele", "May Be" and "A Few Peaceful Days" that Crooks really fire on all cylinders, though, as if the opening duo simply built up to this section. "Schöne Seele" opens with the kind of bouncing, bombastic riff, that the band can keep playing no matter what size of venues they may grow to, and that fans will recognise instantly. We also get a sampling of lyrics that reveals Rogers supposedly not so great relationship with a negligent father, a theme which is elaborated in the piano ballad "May Be", where he pleads "For God's sake, be there for your son!". The following "A Few Peaceful Days" could be about anything lyrically, however, because what a track! It comes roaring out the gates with anthemic post-hardcore riffage and a sentimental vocal line that etches itself into your brain instantly, only to then break into several bursts with thundering tempo and desperate vocal acrobatics. A minute later, the song eventually descends into a lively, abrupt drum pattern, before Rogers brings in the album's central anthem, which immediately figures as one to have fans reaching for the sky and belting their hearts out at future concerts.

Listening through the album's second half can admittedly dampen one's initial excitement with the band a slight bit, as it delivers more of the same while indeed giving you the impression that the most potent manifestations of the band's efforts were likely intentionally put up front on the album. Still, the title track does make its way to a nice and desperate crescendo, while "Windy Little Town" has another go at the confessional piano-piece, and "From The Sticks To Bitterness" has a thrilling bit of guitar histrionics towards the end.

It does not feel right to request that the band structure the songs any more tightly, however, as what's refreshing about them in the first place is exactly that they have somehow made some thoroughly striking songs, seemingly by just letting their creative post-hardcore run rampant instrumentally, while asking Josh Rogers to keep up vocally or be left behind. The deal then does indeed seem similar to that of listening to a Touché Amoré record. Some of the songs may come together more strongly than others, but the whole thing is permeated by a sense of cohesion and urgency that makes you want to leave it running anyway, and makes you feel the urge to return later for another go. And that would be the hallmark of any good album, let alone a debut album.


Download: A Few Peaceful Days, Schöne Seele
For The Fans Of: Pianos Become The Teeth, Touché Amoré, Being As An Ocean, Alexisonfire

Release date 30.10.2015
Equal Vision Records

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