Comprised of Glen MacLeod (guitar) and Graham MacDonald (vocals), Vancouver-based Crash World juxtapose a contemporary vibe against the “poetic whimsy of the ‘60s and the alluring boldness of the ‘70s.” And since the latter need not subject us to vinyl jumpsuits or deep pile chest hair, this decade sampling is hardly offensive. To the contrary, the group’s debut LP, So The Story Goes, promises an entire cornucopia of influence, listing jazz, blues, country, pop and rock as exploratory paths. Had vaporwave or monophonic chant been jammed down that drain pipe, it might still have flowed. After all, the duo strip their influences to a bare-skinned layer of integrity, focusing more on lyrics and instrumentation as opposed to the schematics of theory. Although this so-called “stylistic journey” may loft a few love letters to the past – as exemplified in the less-than-subtle typewriter cover art – it’s the present moment, the actuality of the work, that shines.
The first cut, “Lucky One” is a country tune with well hewn harmonics and excellent structure to the chorus. “These days / your mirror is the bottom of a glass,” MacDonald imparts, as his vocal nuances coax a puddle of beer soaked saloon tears. “Radio,” on the other hand, effects an abrupt turn toward tribute. Sure, Freddie and Geddy belted out their respective love for AM/FM terrestrial boxes, but that was four decades ago. Whether this is a condolence letter or an application for a Kevorkian clinic, the sentiments to old economy are on full display with (spoiler alert) no station hash or annoying DJ talk-ups. If anything, the pre-chorus channels a firm Hold Steady vibe.
“Tail Lights Fade” plays like a hand-cranked music box. The tune is fleshed out with an extra crisp guitar solo amid restrained string accompaniment. Likewise, “Before and After” is a dim lit paean to sudden attraction, aping the perfect croon for hanging mics, while bidding adieu to single life. Then again, it’s hard to know whether the goodbye is an excited nod toward the future or a timid lament. And once again, the group’s lyrics – vagueries and all – push a solid charm offensive.
“R’n’R Queen A.D.” nods toward frantic Mink Deville meets Southside Johnny piano plinking. It’s a fun bar anthem, with every trapping designed for sing-alongs at sticky tables. In other turns of genre, “Third Time’s The Charm” highlights ’70s schlock-house, “Black Swan” take vague cues from Eastern European mysticality and “Leaving Behind” conjures steel pan Steely Dan.
Crash World exists in the yellow glow of Edison bulbs, leather couches and dark hardwood. In that sense, there’s an able comfort to their music; making it both lived-in and sleek, sweeping yet claustrophobic. The band deems this “ragged beauty." And while 15 tracks – many of which top the five-minute mark – is a dense serving for a debut, the sincerity is clear. As is the canon of work from which to pull, given a commitment to live sets. If anything, the light-but-compulsory studio sheen here is a bonus. So The Story Goes may shapeshift through genres, but it’s still familiar enough to make a noted acquaintance.
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