Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crime in Stereo - 'I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone'

Three years after reinventing their style on Is Dead, Crime in Stereo returns with I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone, an album that doubles-down on the band’s sonic ambitions and dares fans to keep up. Ignore the dubious title and got-damn horrendous artwork, cut straight to the music, and you’ll find a slinking, atmospheric juggernaut awaiting. In some ways, it outdoes Is Dead’s ideas, becoming more atmospheric, more dissonant, more willingly un-hardcore. I remember a lot of people calling CiS too experimental circa 2007. Three years later, the band makes seemingly “experimental” numbers like “Choker” and “Third Atlantic” seem like outright pop songs.

A lot of folks have compared CiS to Brand New, which is accurate in a vague way. Both Long Island bands dealt in conventional kid-friendly genres (pop punk, hardcore) before moving on to something darker, more ethereal, and more complex. That’s where the comparisons end, though. Brand New seemingly burned itself out on last year’s Daisy; Crime in Stereo is still burning with ideas.

If there’s a slight against the record, it’s that it’s way less hook-filled. Even the catchiest songs, like “Drugwolf” and “Not Dead,” pale in that regard when compared to, say, “I, Stateside” or “Sudan.” Rather, this is an album built on guitar textures. Guitarists Dan McCabe and Matt Markosy outdo themselves on this outing, jumping from quiet, contemplative strumming to demonic squalls, sometimes in the same song in the case of “Young.” It’s not poppy, but it’s still compelling stuff all the same.

While the album peters out near the end – “Dark Island City” is like a whisper, while closer “I Cannot Answer You Tonight” lacks the final punch of “Choker” or “I, Stateside” – I Was Trying delivers plenty of success before that. There’s the daring, dissonant tones of “Exit Halo.” The enticing intro of “Queue Moderns.” The bombast and desperation of “Type One.” Last album, Crime in Stereo reinvented itself. For a follow-up, they went further down the rabbit hole and came out new again.

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