Review: Jack Foley
THE Crimea have the distinction of being one of John Peel's last
great discoveries after their early independent single, Baby
Boom, was named in the Top Ten of his final Festive Fifty
(2003) ahead of Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Seven
Nation Army by The White Stripes.
They have also drawn favourable comparisons with artists as diverse
as Low, Elliott Smith, The Flaming Lips and Leonard Cohen and
have found prestigious friends in both Travis and Kings of Leon
(both of whom asked them to be their support after they'd heard
The debut album, Tragedy Rocks, certainly demonstrates
their diversity, embracing as it does a vast soundscape that is
both quirkily endearing and oddly frustrating.
But while some parts of the long-player soar to emotional highs,
other parts become too drenched in melancholy that doesn't always
sit comfortably alongside the overall tone of the record.
That said, there are more hits than misses, particularly during
the opening half that transports you across the emotional rock
Opening track, White Russian Galaxy, is a particularly
addictive introduction, packed with crisp melodies and guitar
riffs as well as the husky-toned vocals of frontman, Davey McManus.
It gloriously showcases the band's penchant for penning debauched,
bitter-sweet tales of mean streets, meaner romance, good gin and
not-so-good times wrapped in their own inventive style.
There's a carnival feeling attached to the rolling guitar loops
of Lottery Winners on Acid, a trippy, happy go-lucky
effort that conjures memories of both The Polyphonic Spree and
The Flaming Lips.
While the darker, edgier Opposite Ends comes dripping
in melancholy and menace, with McManus' vocals emerging as a cross
between Robert Smith's and Razorlight's Johnny Borrell's.
Peel's favourite, Baby Boom, is worthy of the late great
DJ's admiration and arguably the best track on the album, unfolding
with a hypnotic guitar riff and containing plenty of angst-ridden
It's lazy, intoxicating style is terrific for kicking back to
if you're in a reflective mood, especially since its imaginative
lyrics manage to reference Captain Caveman, Tarzan and Fred Flinstone.
Further highlights come in the form of Losing My Hair,
which opens with a guitar solo Coldplay would be proud of, before
hitting you with more of McManus' gruff vocals; while there's
an upbeat feel to the urgent Bad Vibrations courtesy
of more addictive guitar loops and a catchy chorus.
Thereafter, the album continues to explore different soundscapes
but draws to a downbeat close that embraces the melancholia of
Elliott Smith and the slow, deliberate vocal style of Leonard
Someone's Crying is a particular culprit and closes
the album on a depressing note that earlier tracks don't deserve.
It's a shame, for much of what comes before is magnificent in
its sonic ambition and lyrical playfulness. Can we have more of
the same on the sophomore effort please?