Abe Vigoda's manic style, in all its complexity, has always been characterized rather simply. The mess of interlocking, chiming, delayed guitars that made up the songs of their last album were characterized as "tropical punk", a label that did and did not give an indication of how seriously talented these guys are. Their intense creativity and the restlessness that comes with it have been pretty obvious in the music theyve put out so far — Skeleton
's high-octane wail gave way to the more stylistically diverse Reviver
EP which featured more complex song arrangements including the low-end throb of "Wild Heart". Crush then is a bit surprising at first listen — with the departure of drummer Reggie Guerrero the exhilarating syncopated rhythms have been left behind in favor a simpler 4/4 pattern on most songs. Synthesizers are present in a big, big way, and singer Michael Vidal's urgent shout-singing has morphed into a maudlin, ominous moan.
As the band has admitted in a few interviews, Skeleton
was exhausting — fast-paced, loud and dense. Crush
is no breezier, and the layers of gloom and darkness coloring all the tracks can make it an oppressive listen.
The record opens with the stellar "Sequins" which melancholically plods along until a beautifully lucid guitar/synth riff explodes it into Technicolor about a minute in. First single "Throwing Shade" with its stomping drums, disco breakdown, and buzzing guitar riffs is the most immense thing the band has laid down so far. Standout "Crush" showcases how good the band has gotten at their craft as it moves from verse to frantic verse, and double-time drum stomps to spiraling guitar riffs, all anchored by Vidal's throaty melodies.
rewards repeated, dedicated listens if only to hear what Vidal is singing. His abstract, surreal lyrical style has, like the music, taken a darker turn on this album — "I was in Heaven/ the day that you died" from "Throwing Shade" is a perfect example of the light/dark dynamic at play here. In the end, however, youll probably listen to Skeleton
more than Crush
— the coldwave-y dark punk thing doesn't really stick the way the last record did. But it's a confident, bold effort that shows just how far Abe Vigoda has come and, hopefully, how much farther they can go.
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Abe Vigoda on Myspace