Lammo’s latest young boys The Crookes return with the excellent Hold Fast, specialising in a 60s-streaked dedication to swooning and a keen attentiveness to upbeat, visceral jangling.
Much more believable and fun in the business of British, grey, romantic longing than gurning monkeys Frankie and the Heartstrings, or weird lopsided-Burberry-adverts-singing-deformed- Smiths-songs The Heartbreaks, The Crookes have humanity, and the tunes firmly on their side.
For a young Sheffield band to sound as promising as The Arctic You-Know-Whos were circa 2006 may yet make up for the latter’s recent, psychotic descent into being overtaken by their precociousness, hero worship and brattish, stinking attitudes.
Opener ‘Afterglow’ is like closing the stable door then feeling the force of the horse bolting through it, The horse of Bonzer Opening Song, that is! With the exception of joyful early mini-album tracks ‘A Collier’s Wife’ and ‘Backstreet Lovers’, Hold Fast is overall less meandering and sounds much more alive than 2011’s first album proper Chasing After Ghosts.
They may be too anonymous for the hipster who requires their fave new band to wear wanky, sleevless leather jackets and sing like their tongue is straining to actually burst through their bottom lip, but with a voice as lovely as George Waites’s and buckets of heart streaming from each song, over the past few years The Crookes have been forming a quiet cult of Bright Young Things and a sound if not all their own, almost completely, and far superior to the other doo-
wop wannabes and Libertines-on-the-pier peddlers out there.
Standout “Stars” is an achingly lovely as anything their influences ever gifted us, ‘The I Love You Bridge’ is a gorgeous ode to romance done in this lesser-heard ‘indie style’ I’ve heard so much about that actually works, and ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ is a an expansive, meloncholic crooner that Richard Hawley would have no grounds to balk at. Recent excitable single “Maybe in the Dark” proves they can provide simple, Now That’s What I Call Music Hits as well as more thoughtful balladeering.
The only off-notes are the goofly obvious greaser jam ‘American Girls’ and the borer snoozer ‘Sal Paradise’, but in an album of respectful, controlled bangers in a world seemingly projectile spewing objectionable music 24/7, this is no biggie.
In short, if you have a passing interest in placing your arms in upwardly turned right angles and doing the invisible hoola hoop, this album will pay furious dividends. Surely there can be no higher praise?