California noise/pop band Crocodiles pays obvious homage to the shimmering, fuzzed-out pop of the Jesus and Mary Chain, but the group manages to sound more like a tribute than a direct knockoff. The band's fourth album, "Crimes of Passion", is a whirlwind of hazy guitars and catchy melodies that make every track sound like it could be a hit single.
Despite a uniformity of tone across these songs, there are a few tracks that rise above the din. "She Splits Me Up", in particular, is a highlight. Its cascading guitar melody, sun-drenched harmonies and reflective lyrics merge in a song that wraps its melancholy in a sugary-sweet coating. "Marquis de Sade" is as slinky as its namesake, while "Heavy Metal Clouds" is spiced up with unexpected horn accents.
Not surprising for an album that blazes through 10 songs in just over 30 minutes, "Crimes of Passion" is not without its weaknesses. The uber-catchy pop of opening track "I Like It in the Dark" disintegrates into a spoken-word monologue that's disruptive to the fuzzy tone the group has established. Other tracks channel a cheery pop haze that's enjoyable in the moment but doesn't leave much of a lasting impression once the ringing chords fade. That's hardly a dealbreaker, though, for "Crimes of Passion". Just because these songs have the catchiness and poise of singles doesn't mean every track needs to be one.
-- Catherine P. Lewis