Having formed in just 2009, the fact that Crocodiles’ latest album Boys becomes their fifth studio album is prolific to say the least. The San Diego duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell are still milking the same vein, but there’s always a little bit more to their albums than a string of identikit efforts. In addition to the normal staple of The Jesus And Mary Chain-ish fuzz, Boys sees the odd flirtation with Latin beats and a dollop of salsa.
This time, the album was recorded in Mexico City under the stewardship of local resident and lead singer of Los Fancy-Free, Martin Thulin, who’s picked up the producer baton from The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner who produced the band’s fourth effort Crimes Of Passion in 2013. But it doesn’t seem to matter who is twiddling the knobs – the tracks are generally collated rapidly once the duo have taken their individual ideas and merged them into complete songs, and this ability and solid vision within their songwriting ultimately results in the band creating their own destiny rather than have their ideas completely tweaked and revamped by an outsider, although the brush with salsa that gives a slight Santana flavour is possibly mostly Thulin’s influence.
There’s little evidence to support the fact that the majority of songs on Boys came to fruition on an acoustic guitar but that was often where the seeds were sown. Lead single Crybaby Demon is epic, but there’s not an acoustic guitar in sight: built upon an infectious beat and fuzzy guitar hooks, while Welchez does his damnedest to sound like JAMC’s Jim Reid (not for the last time either), everything comes together perfectly for a thoroughly enjoyable cut that gets the album off to a flyer. Second track Foolin’ Around is another single but it’s a completely different beast; with spacey touches aside a thick and dirty grungy guitar riff for a much slower but equally compelling effort, there’s a strong element of superb slacker rock on show despite claims that the track “is a bonkers car-crash of influences”. The short, succinct Do The Void is another to benefit from thick guitar grunge alongside Reid’s – whoops, Welchez’s – vocal, and a mesmerising, contrasting synth melody, its rubbery bass bending strings like Uri Geller bends spoons.
Peroxide Hearts is the third song to have made a pre-album appearance and its catchy, sleazy guitaring develops into a free-for-all whilst maintaining a constant centre-line provided by another guitar, sounding like classic post-punk in the process, whilst Transylvania marries a hideously catchy pop-presence with sawing guitars and a chaotic, space-jazz climax. The ethereal The Boy Is A Tramp also intrigues: it’s like the members of Deacon Blue have realised that there’s no need to make bland pop when you can make a dreamy racket with swathes of coolness instead.
The Latin influenced efforts, though, are the most diverse tracks on the album. Kool TV conjures up images of prancing Spanish dancers before guitars head down Chaos Street once again. Album closer Don’t Look Up then features a skittering Latino beat and deft touches of guitar for more dreaminess before descending into a sound of confusion, like two different tracks being played simultaneously.
To knock out so many albums in just six years is nothing short of remarkable, and to maintain consistency is even more of an achievement, but that’s exactly what Crocodiles continue to do with the release of Boys. They’ve never really risen to heights that maybe they should have scaled but with so many infectious pop melodies lurking under the fuzz, it’s just as remarkable that they remain on the periphery of their genre. Perhaps Boys will change all that? Let’s hope so.