Crocodiles - Boys

by Jim Cunnar Rating:7 Release Date:2015-05-11

The last decade has seen southern California produce some great indie-rock. Long time friends Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez, who make up Crocodiles, are part of that scene which includes the likes of Wavves, Best Coast, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, and Dum Dum Girls. Their fifth album, Boys, taps into and builds on the scuzzy guitar reverb sound that has come to define that scene and is an adequate addition to the collective.

Opener 'Crybaby Demon' is classic Crocodiles, a groover whose chorus of "She gets so high" plays backround to the feedback infused guitars. 'Hard' is power-pop gold with a guitar riff reminiscent of 'Regret' by New Order. The distortion of 'Peroxide Hearts' and 'Doin the Void' are Psychocandy-era Jesus & Mary Chain throwbacks. 

'Kool TV' opens with a fun bongo beat, while 'The Boy is a Tramp' and 'Don't Look Up' have layered strings and gentle tambourines, an arrangement that gives the songs a very retro-60s vibe. A low point, however, is 'Foolin' Around', which awkwardly combines a 'Billy Jean' bass riff with campy, silly vocals. It doesn't fit, especially in the second slot on the album. It's a weak Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' knock-off. 

I give Crocodiles credit for adding in new sounds and textures on Boys. It was recorded at producer Martin Thulin's studio in Mexico City, with Thulin dropping subtle Latin accents in various places on the album. The problem is that the experimentation is used sporadically, and because of this, the album is inconsistent.  

The song-to-song flow is choppy. Half of the songs have the old Crocodiles feel, and the other half have the new vibe, and it made me want to go in and rearrange the song order so it was an easier listen.  

Sometimes being caught in middle can be worse than committing one way or the other, and that's what's happened on Boys. Next time around, let's see if Charles and Brandon can go all in and ride a specific sound to the end. Even if it fails, it'd be better than being caught in-between.   

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