According to some, Crackout are the “nearly men” of British rock. Their 2001 debut This Is Really Neat was well received in general, but failed to catapult the trio into the leagues of Hundred Reasons, Supergrass, Muse and the like. Oh No! is their second bite of the apple, and it may or may not push them into the big time…
It has to be said that album opener Out Of Our Minds is quite inspired, and will live long in the memory, much like a Take Me Out tribute, with slightly less funk. Steve Eagle’s inflection is perfectly suited to the kind of music on offer here, and it won’t be long until you’re struggling to stop repeating lines over and over (see Out Of Our Minds’ “We can fight, jive, kick you out!” hook).
Generally speaking, Oh No! is a commendable collection of melodic and self-assured pop rock, exhibiting its fair share of sing-along moments and tasty licks. Insect Song wanders along pleasantly enough, like a greatly extended intro (“Sixteen barrels of insects / Pour them over my head”), whereas This Is What We Do picks up the pace with a filthy bassline and Free All Angels-esque crescendo.
The more suppressed tracks, however, do not hold up particularly well: Whilst Wait would appear to push all the right buttons, it simply doesn’t excite or inspire. Freakin’ All Night is a marked improvement, rendering the two tracks a perfect explanation behind Crackout’s failure to garner any significant success. It’s hit and miss stuff, occasionally compelling but equally frustrating.
The second half of the album promises much, but the excellently overdriven All This Colour soon subsides in favour of so-so lyrics and forgettable chord progressions. Pale has the unfortunate and overwhelming taste of filler, and it takes Way Too Long to restore any faith in Crackout – it’s driving, confident and genuine, a harmonised rock epithet in the vein of an angry JJ72.
Oh No! is more serious than its predecessor, but it still lacks a cutting edge. Crackout, with such gems as Out Of Our Minds and Way Too Long, are clearly capable of a lot more. In the end, this album hints at something great, and often struggles with mediocrity. Of course, it is by no means bad, and one would hope that Crackout do themselves justice next time around.