When Crepes’ debut LP hit the speakers last year, it was a sparkling collection of indie pop that leaned towards a matured early ‘70s hangover of breezy touchstones – from George Harrison solo jaunts to Todd Rundgren’s more reigned in Runt years. Just below the breeze, though, was a dark current, a chill that occasionally braced against their otherwise sunny strums. The ripple reared its head on standout “Tough” and the bittersweet gem “In A Dream,” giving the album a nice bit of shading that kept it from ever skewing saccharine. The band seems to have enjoyed those moments as well, because on their follow-up, In Cahoots, they seize on the darker driven pulses wholesale. The album is tinged with a kind of slinking funk, a spaced-jazz sizzle, and a propulsive pop instinct that infects the listener with an urge to move. They then cool the whole thing down on the b-side with a sunset scratch of country cool to ease the simmer out of the stylus.
The band padded out their sound for the sophomore LP, adding an additional guitar and perhaps most vitally, keys, to the mix. The keyboard shading picks up where the debut left off, perching on the edge of ‘70s pomp, but sidling down easily into puddles of power pop and nascent New Wave. In Cahoots is a subtler record than its predecessor, and as such the songs need to sit in the headphones a few more rotations to really embed themselves. It also proves to be a richer collection, though, and Crepes fuses their influences in ways that don’t always paint by the recommended numbers. It doesn’t hurt that the songwriting from Tim Karmouche (The Murlocs) is as biting as ever, burrowing hooks under the skin with a sly wink and a subtle tip of his cap. His songs endear themselves, but stop just short of showy touches, giving them a lived-in comfort that doesn’t wear out on repeat visits.
The band’s last record didn’t really anchor itself too well Stateside, and I fear that this record may suffer the same fate, due to little physical distribution in these parts. It’s a damn shame though, because In Cahoots is yet another Aussie export putting domestic competition to shame. The record latches onto just enough nostalgia and classicism to feel familiar, but this time around the band are pushing the brick forward a few wide strides. Their pop stew is damn enjoyable, not to mention a perfect accompaniment to the crisper days ahead. Do yourself a favor and skip out of the US zip code for one of 2018’s hidden pop gems.
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