Having plowed through countless shows and six-plus years with Brooklyn’s dirge-garage rockers Awesome Color, singer/guitarist Derek Stanton has taken his solo Turn To Crime back to his original digs of Michigan to (probably) hunker down in one of those fabled cheap warehouses to make his art, the kind you read about in all those “Detroit is back!” articles. Well, people like Stanton aren’t fooled. They actually live in Detroit, walk the streets, wonder where the cops are, read about the corruption, blow tires in endless potholes, see amazing bands at dives, stumble home alone, and see their friends come and go, move back and leave again and…kill time maybe? Oh, the supposed freedom of cheap living battling the desire to crash on your couch and do Breaking Bad marathons.
After the brief, creeping-in opener, “I”—one warbling organ note suddenly crumbling down—Stanton declares, “I don’t want good times/I don’t like sunshine.” Maybe not, but the memories of sunny days and late nights drape over this record like a favorite soiled old rock tee tossed in the back of the closet. The guitars are bruised, the beats staggering, Stanton’s voice drowsy. If he doesn’t like the sunshine, he may mean the rays peering in on a hungover morning with their admonition to get up.
Mostly, there’s a cloudy, echoey atmosphere throughout Can’t Love, but the clouds aren’t exactly the industrial lung-cloggers of old. After all, industry left a while ago. It’s more like one of those muggy, mid-July dusks where you realize this is going to be one of those rainy summers. The early Velvet Underground demo-like “Forgiveness” finds Stanton laying scuffed doo-wop remembrances over neon noodling and tumbling drums. And the lead chipping guitar line in the great “Sunday’s Cool” waddles around like street lights popping on here, not popping on the broken ones over there. It’s this summer’s soundtrack hit for those who make feral alley cats their confidant. “Pine Box,” and much of the spectral vibe of this mini-LP, sidles dolefully through the night, back home and to the basement to record, or fall asleep into some buzzing, numbing dreams that mostly get repressed during the daytime. Everything shapes down into the closing two-fer, “Nightmares” and “I Can’t Not Love”, that are both longer and more manic than previous, keeping Stanton out drinking or in recording long enough to hold off those DVR hour-sappers.
Stanton did nearly everything on this, even the subtle harmonies that sift through sometimes. There is little as lonely as harmonizing with yourself. Stanton once lived in and helped run the influential Williamsburg DIY space, Glasslands. And Can’t Love is a sonic semblance of moving from a bustling warehouse in gentrifying Brooklyn to wandering around alone on a culdesac in the rust belt and wondering what the next stage is.