Pleasant riffs and decent pop sensibilities are the defining traits of Hold Fast, the sophomore release from The Crookes, but if it is musical depth you are looking for, this probably isn’t the album for you.
The sound of The Crookes is not one that offends by any means, one that comes off as a blend between Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello. Unfortunately, they don’t quite have the freshness of Holly and lack the musical craftsmanship of Costello. Opening the album is a track called Maybe in the Dark and there is hint of promise here. An engaging riff and the sound of a band that enjoys what they are doing. Unfortunately, this same energy starts to immediately die down by the time we hit the second track, Afterglow. What we are left with for the rest of the album is background music. Nothing bad by all means, but not a work that really engages the listener and leaves them wanting more.
This isn’t a completely bland effort though. There are moments when The Crookes really try to shine. The namesake of the album, Hold Fast offers some life to the listener with earnest vocals and riffing guitars. The closer of the album, Sal Paradise, is an attention worthy song and one that stands out as a soulful and heartfelt piece. Next to these songs though, the rest of the album just feels like musical filler.
The genre of pop music filled with jangly guitars is one that is strongly coming back into vogue, and The Crookes are certainly a good example of this style. The music is decent, the themes of love and relationships that are lyrically explored are common enough and resonant, and the musicians are energetic enough. The problem is that there really isn’t anything below the surface here. Hold Fast is not a deep thought provoking release…and that’s ok. Not every band needs to be a complete cerebral experience. It does leave the listener wanting a little more though from time to time.