An album from Crocodiles means an album to soundtrack that moment you’re holding beer in a plastic cup, your friend is pulling you into some backyard, and you see some guy in lobster boxers holding an inflatable pool toy in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It’s music that’s fun and belligerent, and there’s really nothing outside that. It’s probably the flamboyant attention-seeking tempo, songs tags like “Gimme Some Annihilation,” and core members Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell propensity for hip sunglasses. Their fourth studio album, Crimes of Passion, is here to meet the same salacity and repudiation as Endless Flowers, Sleep Forever and Summer of Hate.
Crocodiles has always faced criticism and jabs throughout its existence and Crimes of Passion is likely to be scolded for the same things. Foremost, Welchez and Rowell are one act out of every hundred retro off-culture not-so-dark wave band that managed to “make it.” Pre-ordering a Crocodiles album is like putting a quarter in a gumball machine and knowing the outcome will be one of only so many options. Whatever comes out, you’ll just have to chew on that for a while. While 2012’s Endless Flowers was Jesus and Mary Chain songwriting with sunny fuzz melodies and the off-kilter romanticism of simple boy-likes-girl situations, Crimes of Passion is Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground swirl with a cocky come-ons and insipid snideness. So if that’s your favorite flavor, the odds were in your favor this time around.
They also usually get a slap on the wrist for not seeming sincere or heartfelt lyrically. Crimes of Passion is pretty a la carte as far as sincerity goes, which is great for a pop album, but not necessarily great for an overall concept. A little confusing too, since we know Welchez has tied the knot with Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls. Where Endless Flowers’ not-so-subtle love note “No Black Clouds For Dee Dee” helped with counter that ridicule, Crimes of Passion has cute little numbers like “Cockroach” and “Virgin” that, for all we know, might have something encrypted in lyrics like “I could see you creeping ’cause you left a trail of scum” but, probably not.
There are a lot more reasons one could tally for the lukewarm feeling of Crimes of Passion. It could be numbers like “She Splits Me Up” which, with its harmonies and fourteen-year-old mentality, sounds reminiscent of ’60s British Invasion bands like The Turtles. Of course, Welchez and Rowell would never be as cad as to say “She broke my heart” but would much rather chime in with the more grotesquely suggestive “She spits me up.” The band’s grab bag style of lyrics and labeling has gotten better since the days of Summer of Hate when a jingle called “I Wanna Kill” presented itself in a chic little head-bobber number. But songs like “Me and My Machine Gun” and “Gimme Some Annihilation” still speckle the tracklist. Before you roll your eyes, just remember that we’ve all had bad metaphoric moments, too.
It comes down to this. If you tell Crocodiles not to fall into their old shortcomings they’re going to fall right in. Well, they just did. It fits their too cool (and old) for school vibe and leather apparel, but it also runs the risk of being less than memorable. Like the previous three Crocodile outputs, Crimes of Passion is forgettable like a party might be. Some may get sick of it and leave early, and others may find the album similar to a one night stand who says all the right things.