Crow “Arcane” – LP Review

Review: Lana Harris

  Deep in the American south, legends about crossroads abound. It is said that if you stand at a crossroads and wait there until midnight, a man (or the devil in the guise of a man) will appear who will imbibe you with phenomenal guitar playing abilities (and the women, money and fame that come with it). All that for the rather reasonable cost of your soul. Nowadays we know that’s not true, because there are plenty of people who have immense amounts of money, sex and fame that got gypped on the talented part.

Beyond the legend, crossroads are symbolic of any significant choice making. For a band that has decided to reform a couple of decades after the peak of their success, titling the opening track ‘Ghost at the Crossroads’ is apt. The writer, Fenton, claims it refers to an actual crossroads, as well as being the site of a car accident Fenton was in. The ghost in the title was born from a late night sighting of an apparition. In keeping with a symbolic theme, the band now exists, and the crossroads have been bulldozed into a roundabout. Crow made ‘Ghost at the Crossroads’ the first single, and this was the right decision. It is easily the most captivating of the tracks on Arcane, melancholy tinged but with the feel of a classic you’ve heard many times before right from the first listen. The song is heavy with the poignancy associated with monumental decisions.

Track two ‘The Whole World Turns’ continues in a similar way, albeit with less of the ‘instant classic’ melodic lines. A thoughtful, pensive ambience continues to permeate the rest of the tracks and is an opposing pull to the generic ‘rock’ label applied to the band. The brooding style was a surprise. According to their bio, these guys have toured with bands including Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pavement, and given the height of their success was from the early 1990’s, grunge elements were expected – but not confirmed. The supporting slot to Jeff Buckley is a more apt idea to form preconceptions from. Crow are melodic, introspective, and their songs can easily wind out into an epic feel – long notes, no repeated returns to a chorus, but onward into the musical sunset, as it were.

In describing the songs he has written, Fenton leans towards surreal imagery that fits the songs he authors. Archer’s words favour the concrete and concise. However, when performed, both these styles are played out across long looping vocal strings, particularly across chorus lines.

Crow are back: they’ve negotiated their crossroads and brought to Arcane the mysterious and intimate musical and lyrical style suggested by the album’s title.

Review: Lana Harris

ArcaneArcane – Crow