Post-hardcore is most memorable when it packs an emotional punch. Typically, US bands like Glassjaw and more recently letlive have been great at this, but with ‘Are We All the Same Distance Apart’, Crooks prove that the UK also has what it takes. This debut album takes a typically British approach to handling emotion in that it’s more reserved and introverted than the aforementioned US heavyweights, but the impact is no less powerful. The main conduit for this is vocalist Josh Rogers.
Rogers has clearly developed since 2012’s ’Nevermore’ EP and it’s shown here to stunning effect. ’Dear Reader’ shows the range he’s built with its high, soaring notes and impactful chorus melodies that synchronise with the crescendos in the music for maximum impact. More impressive is Rogers’ ability to switch from confident harmonies to introverted, vulnerable narratives, as this gives the record its compelling, tragic undertone. ’May Be’’s minimalistic monologue allows Rogers to bear his soul and bring the listener in, allowing you to share his journey as he lives and breathes every note that he sings.
Behind the vocals is a powerful instrumental backbone led by the precision of drummer Jack Bachelor. Frantic, angular patterns transition seamlessly to calming rhythms and these tempo changes keep each song interesting as you move through the album’s ten tracks. Meaty guitars accentuate the peaks and troughs, all embellished by Dan Lancaster’s excellent production, which balances a raw, natural band feel with crisp tones.
At times the record feels unstructured and haphazard, as little gets repeated and no song goes back on itself. However, as ‘Are We All the Same Distance Apart’ is a journey through the pains of a fractured home, these dynamic song structures are a perfect match for the roller coaster of emotions poured through the lyrics, accentuating the message further. This emotional journey, backed by superb musicianship and pristine vocals makes for a phenomenal debut album that puts Crooks at the forefront of UK post-hardcore.
‘Are We All the Same Distance Apart’ by Crooks (UK) is released on 30th October on Headphone Music/Equal Vision Records.
Words by Mark Johnson (@Testwood)