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The Crookes: Northern Soul for the 21st Century

Indie | Monday 30th July 2012 | Osh

 

“Tell me a story that’s not about money, tell me a story that’s real” grumbles Howard Marks, while narrating the online trailer for The Crookes’ second album Hold Fast. The background of the four piece, who met at university in Sheffield, is one such story.

 

 

The band formed in 2008, and take their name from a largely student area in their adopted hometown. Reviews of early gigs paint a picture of an energetic, fearless and above all, impressive outfit, so it should have come as little surprise when recognition, praise and support followed in equal measure. The most notable acclaim came from esteemed DJ Steve Lamacq, a man who knows a thing or two about good music.

 

Two years later, The Crookes released an eight track EP entitled Dreams Of Another Day on independent label Fierce Panda. The record acted as a compilation of the bands work and showcased the hauntingly beautiful lyrics of Daniel Hopewell, perfectly complimented by the melodic vocals of George Waite. The band, who also included guitarist Alex Saunders and Russell Bates on drums, demonstrated a wide range of songs and recording techniques. Upbeat numbers such as ‘Backstreet Lovers’ and ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’ have become endearing fan favourites and were recorded alongside slower numbers such as ‘More Blitz Than Ritz’ and a heartbreaking rendition of Richard Hawley’s ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’.

 

2011 saw the release of their debut album Chasing After Ghosts. The record further flaunts their extensive talents and is an experience full of catchy guitar riffs upon which wonderful vocals tell the tales of love, dreams and Parisian street artists. The opening track ‘Godless Girl’ drags you in by your collar and sets the scene for the first five songs, the experience is heavenly for any indie music fan.

 

Lyrically, The Crookes are beyond brilliant. Daniel has that ability that only a few possess, and that is to influence the listener to the degree that they feel obliged to seek out the songwriters own personal influences.

 

While it is an unwritten rule that any new band must distance themselves from any Smiths comparisons, you feel The Crookes, with new guitarist Tom Dakin, could get away with at least acknowledging the compliment.

 

Their second album, released earlier this month is entitled Hold Fast and picks up where the last album left off. Taking its name from a drunken Richard Hawley anecdote, the record seeks to bring ‘New Pop’ to the masses, and it achieves this with exceptional competence. Opening track ‘Afterglow’ needs only three listens and its chorus is embedded within you, ‘Maybe In The Dark’ and ‘Stars’ display exceptional song structure and strength in depth is shown with the stunning ‘The I Love You Bridge’.

 

I was fortunate enough to see them perform at Benicàssim this year, they truly blew me away, and at the same time converted four of my friends into ‘Bright Young Things’, the colloquial term they use to describe their followers. The media-savvy and ever stylish band, who prioritise music over money have announced an 18 day tour of the UK this November.

 

By Gareth Davies

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