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Album Review: Crooks - 'Crooks in Paradise'

12 January 2014 | 6:11 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A flawless punk pop release.

San Diego pop punk outfit, Crooks, an underrated band for quite some time now, have perfected everything they have going for them with ‘Crooks in Paradise’. The release features four new songs, 'The Blues', 'Leave Me Alone', 'Bright Red Hair', and 'The Deep End', along with a reworked selection of tracks from the band’s self-titled album and ‘Kids, Cops & Space T.V.

For the most part, Crooks have lived in the shadow of Brian Warren’s main band, Weatherbox, but ‘Crooks in Paradise’ shows Mike Rogers’ song writing ability to be just as good, only needing a little bit of expert producing, and marks the beginning of Crooks as a remarkable band in their own right.

Despite there being very little new material offered, the recording of the album is so much better in quality than previous material put out by the band. Therefore it makes sense for Crooks to reimagine so much of their back catalogue. Additionally, this is also something they can afford to do since their audience is still relatively small. Besides, it is something which existing fans likely would have wanted to be done.

The album is fun yet reflective and introspective. ‘Briton’ opens with a deadpan joke– “so you said “that’s the best man who ever died,” and I said “well, why’s that?” and you said, “god knows””, while ‘Who Me?’ constantly reaffirms “who, me? I am still breathing”. The songs are catchy yet never overdone, and the band somehow achieves a balance on every track that is spot on. The potential greatness, which the previously released material held is revealed in the fresh recordings, with songs like 'Humbug', 'Armadas of Icebergs', and 'Tremble Tremble' being improved with small tweaks and far better production.

Of the new tracks, ‘Bright Red Hair’ fits right in with the older reworked tracks, being about as pop punk as it gets. While,‘The Blues’ and ‘Leave Me Alone’, which were previously released as a teaser for the album, delve even further into pop territory.

The Deep End’, however, appears to be a rather standard pop song at first but then bursts of guitar reveal a Weatherbox-esque punk edge, with Warren’s short vocal parts in the song only increasing this resemblance.

‘Crooks in Paradise’ is the band’s best release yet, and the extensive reworking of older songs is something that fans could not have seen coming. The risky decision, however, was certainly a wise one when hearing the end result. This release really nails what Crooks is all about and hopefully sees the band finally move on to bigger things, breaking free from being narrowly known through association.

1. Humbug

2. The Blues

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3. Briton

4. Bright Red Hair

5. Digibird

6. The Deep End

7. Harry Takayama

8. Who Me?

9. Leave Me Alone

10. Captain Bones

11. Armadas of Icebergs

12. Tremble Tremble