‘Marquis De Sade’ is titled presumably in tribute to the libertine French Aristocrat whose name spawned the term sadism. Saucy stuff. There’s lots of talk of face scratching and the like, and Welchez whines “for your crimes of passion/ I can’t wait” over a slinking bass line. Crocodiles haven’t written the musical version of ’50 Shades of Grey’, though, because it’s romantic – in a spontaneous, slightly seedy, carpe diem sort of way. “I know you’re not mine”, it despairs, “but I’ll be yours tonight”. On ‘Gimme Some Annihilation’ there’s a particularly gripping strain of masochism, perhaps borrowed from our old Marquis Donatien Alphonse François.
There’s plenty more to pick apart lyrically, with a wealth of references along the way. Final song ‘Un Chant D’Amour’ is surely a nod to Jean Genet’s banned film about sexually charged attractions between prisoners. It’s a notorious film because it brought up the age-old debate between obscenity and artistic expression. Only a couple of weeks ago Justin Timberlake won people over with projector-heavy video for ‘Tunnel Vision’. Robin Thicke lost respect by prancing around gleefully like a creepy misogynist in a nightclub. Despite Crocodiles’ unabashed lyrical rawness, ‘Crimes of Passion’ is absolutely artistic, though, and at times they are beautifully poetic.
Charles Rowell also takes centre stage with his relentlessly inventive approach to guitar. The dominating riff on ‘Virgin’ reeks of early Noughties math-rock, and it’s evocative of all the awkwardness of secondary school. Then, on ‘Un Chant D’Amour’ one song later, the register slips effortlessly into chiming melodies that float unobtrusively atop pulsing drums, before a harmonica solo appears from nowhere.
Crocodiles have succeeded in creating something believable and tangible in ‘Crimes of Passion’. Every band that writes incredibly addictive music, but then insists on singing about abstract concepts and far away imagery, leaves you feeling a little frustrated. ‘Crimes of Passion’ on the other hand, is playful, real, genuine, and just a bit naughty. What more could you wish for?
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