A senior quote in my high school yearbook read, “Sometimes you just gotta take a look at that wave and be like ‘Let’s party.’ ” Bear in mind, I went to a high school over a thousand miles away from the nearest beach. This particular senior was the epitome of effortless cool, a painful reminder to the awkward, huddled masses drowning in her “wake.” It’s infinitely odd that I was reminded of this quote after listening to Crocodiles‘ new record, Endless Flowers, a frolicking romp through a west-coast, desert-garden of noise. However, one glance at the music video for “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)” and I realized instantly: Fuck…they’re really cool.
The entire texture of the record is drenched in a California sunburn, euphorically bubbling beneath the skin. Allusions to The Strokes, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr., etc. emerge, obviously, but the effect is more subtle than a simple point and shoot critique. The noise-soaked pop songs leave one with an ancient sensation of pressing your ear up to a crappy transistor radio, trying to suck in a saccharine dose of the top 40, occasionally freaking out after a love ballad turns into an unholy seance (Track 5, “Hung Up On a Flower”).
Overall, the melodic contours of the record lean on sing-songy 60′s ballads (Track 1, “Endless Flowers) or spacious, suspended notes over open, 80′s power-trash harmonies (Track 2, “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)”). Tracks like “Welcome Trouble” and “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” remind the listener of Crocodiles’ debt to Sonic Youth (surfing dangerously close to “Kool Thing”).
Truly, the only issue with the record is that it’s too cool; too smooth, too effortless, too aptly-named. While the songs are well made and the constant wall of noise is comforting, the listener is left yearning for a moment of weakness, a moment of true, irreproducible magic that is the essence of recorded rock n’ roll. Essentially, the record is syrup without enough waffles; delicious and sweet, but you feel disgusted with your life choices afterwards. Why can’t I just “…take a look at that wave and be like ‘Let’s party?’ ” Because you will never be cool enough to drink with Crocodiles, as the record kindly, sweetly reminds you.