Monday, 7 October 2013

Bedlam Crooks - Stay Curious

Album review by

South-east London, indie/alt/electronic five-piece Bedlam Crooks are one of those bands whose sound is instantly familiar yet should you wish to find comparisons between them and other contemporaries you'd find yourself at a bit of a loss who to pair them with. Having just released their 10-track debut album 'Stay Curious' online on the morning of 5th October, that release was celebrated with an album launch party at The Borderline that same evening, where ahead of the, date the guys explained; "This is the climax of 15 months of bone-breaking hard work. This year we've toured, gigged, written, recorded, laughed, drunk, broken and bled our way to this point. We've worked through the night, consumed enough stimulants to kill a small whale and played until our hands and fingers literally bled. This album, 'Stay Curious', means everything to us. And it is the documentation of our lives so far built on the principles that we have in turn formed. We believe in what it says more than anything else in the world and we can't wait to share it with you."

It's clear from the offset these guys have a fire in their belly and a passionate determination to perfect their sound and exist as a band who have a skilfully constructed notion of what they fundamentally stand for. The album opens with an interesting choice in 'Tidal Haze'. You are initially introduced to the the record with a sombre, slow, popular piano melody before unique, melancholic vocals kick in with opening lyrics "pebble by pebble, stone by stone, we are slowly stripped of hope." The track in itself is quite progressive and spacious. It develops and breathes in its own time with it, but is a risky opening track that I'm sure was placed there for a reason - it d├ębuts each instrument and the lead singer's vocal performance almost individually before climaxing into a sonic haze. The track then fades out gently ending with a rather abrupt drum note. This is a peculiarly-placed song you'd generally expect perhaps mid-album or as an album closer, but I'm digging the way its placement completely threw me off in regards to what to expect from the album overall.

Follow-up track 'Running On Empty' has sporadically racy indiepop guitar riffs and is an upbeat, dancey number that is broken with edgy, grungey vocals and punky harmonies reminiscent of, dare I say it, Rise Against! 'Beaches' takes an anthemic, euphoric intro, and lyricism that would be soppy if not for the gruff punk bite to the lead vocalist's voice. Then there are tracks like 'Bonfire of the Vanities' (my favourite) that haunts and pulls and creeps through you with a post-hardcore bite atmospheric debut single, 'Next Animal' that plays with an strong '80s synth and a rock twist; 'Heat' that is such a unique mish-mash of sound there is no better explanation than grabbing the download and hearing for yourself! 'Stay Curious' is an eclectic infusion of tracks that have each been nurtured and grown in such a spectacular, individualised way that the 10 songs feel like we've been spoiled with too much awesomeness yet can't help but selfishly crave more. Bedlam Crooks have a likeability and a sincerity to their sound and their approach to making music that gives them a definitive, dangerous, ones-to-watch status; and we salute them for that.

Bedlam Crooks' website

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