Singing in a Robert Smith voice, dropping the scabby guitar sound of the record that made them a hipster favourite, turning up the synthesizers – on paper, Abe Vigoda should have made a terrible third album. And yet, Crush
by embracing their sombre side and developing a taste for 80s pop and cold wave revivalists, these Californian noise poppers managed to
craft a rather brilliant record. ‘Crush’ oozes icy blood, melancholy and melodies – there are some killer hooks on there,
notably in the wave-y, anxious ‘Pure Violence’ and the synth
pop gem ‘Dream of My Love’ – but has the sense not to harbour too wide-ranging ambitions.
Pulling the vocals out from behind the noise curtain of older material and adding a Martin Hannett-like muffle to the drums works wonders for already strong songs, but there are remnants of what turned many
people on to the band in the first place: the rollicking drum patterns are still there, and the jangly guitar fills of old make the odd cameo.
Sometimes, it is better to carefully edit rather than tear up the notebook.
but band leader and chief songwriter Jack Barnett, after soaking up Steve Reich, dubstep and minimal electronics,
integrated classical instruments into TNP’s apocalyptic drum and percussion sounds in a way that makes the results sound utterly and inevitably original.
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