The Crookes have a wonderful talent for combining riveting youthful energy with a romantic sense of nostalgia in their music, through a mixture of George Waite’s pining vocals, Daniel Hopewell’s beautifully cynical lyrics, and gorgeous retro production values. The Lucky Ones, the band’s fourth album, is no different in this respect. Decidedly more cheerful than their previous effort, 2014’s Soapbox, The Lucky Ones retains much of the Sheffield foursome’s melodious charm.
Starting with the low-key, reverb-laden Brand New Start, which makes use of more modern drum beats than usual (potentially a result of drummer Russell Bates’ post-Soapbox departure from the band) and bursting energetically into single World Is Waiting, the album starts off strong. World Is Waiting is a fantastic track about feeling ready and excited for life to begin. As a soon-to-be graduate, the line “The future’s like a flicker on a picture reel” feels very relatable and George calling out triumphantly, “There is a world and it’s waiting for you” on the chorus is both thrilling and reassuring.
The third track, lead single I Wanna Waste My Time On You is cynical yet romantic love song with a euphoric chorus. Daniel, the band’s guitarist and lyricist has said of the track,
“I Wanna Waste My Time On You was the first song we wrote for the album and it sort of set the tone about what we wanted to achieve. I always see songs as colours (I’m not sure if it’s synesthesia or not) but the last album was black and grey, whereas these songs are all blue and pink and bright yellow.”
It’s very easy to see what Daniel means. This is an upbeat, colourful album. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s quite colourful enough as the album blurs together a touch. Although it’s still very pleasant to listen to – it’s well-produced, George has a wonderful voice, the instrumentation is thoughtful – I had troubling remembering which song was which, even after listening to the album several times. In this way, The Lucky Ones differs from the Crookes album I know best, 2012’s Hold Fast, which is packed full of catchy, instantly memorable tunes and sardonic witticisms.
However, I do think the album is a grower. After a few more listens I found myself head bopping gleefully to Real Life and bouncing along to the cheesy 80s synths of Roman Candle. Another highlight is No One Like You; it starts at a slow gallop and grows with a synth-brass pre-chorus to a howling chorus and culminates in a frantic bridge. The closing track, B. N. S. Part II is a bassy bookend to the album’s opener. Its fuzzy lo-fi laziness is lush with sparkling synths, while Waite’s crooning vocals undulate below them. This track encapsulates the way the record makes use of more modern instrumentation – notably synths – than previous work. Still the band’s pop sensibilities remain firmly rooted in 60s British Invasion bands.
Although the album was perhaps not as memorable as some of the band’s prior records, it’s still an extremely enjoyable listen with some great tracks. I expect that after seeing them live (as I will next week), I will have grown fonder of some of The Lucky Ones’ album tracks, as well as its wonderful singles.