They say the trouble with first impressions is you only get to make one. Which always seemed a bit narrow minded. Surely the problem with first impressions and only getting to make one only occurs if (and only if) you completely fuck them up. The kind of fucking up that causes people to stare dumbfounded, and walk away loudly remarking about how they’d just found a high new entry in the chart of world’s arseholiest arseholes.
Equally, if you’re socially inept but, by some extraordinary set of coincidences, manage to fluke your way into an initial chat that makes you out to be worthy of note, the one-off nature of that first impression can only be a boon.
For Crocodiles tonight, the first impression was one of confusing metamorphosis. They seem to have become The Drums. Maybe it’s just the Letterman jackets. Maybe it’s just the fringes. They don’t look as expected.
Yes, it should be about the music. But what made Crocodiles appealing was the leather’n’red-light, wear-my-Raybans-inside, dry iced cloaked rebellion. It’s not new, and it’s possibly not that clever, but, sometimes, it’s precisely right.
Besides, if you’ve spent the whole day dressed in black, mainlining Bukowski and listening to Psychocandy on repeat in order to get yourself properly in the mood for sneering nihilistic drones, getting presented with something else is bad.
It’s almost as if the shift which they underwent between album one and album two, from being a two piece to a five piece, is continuing to change them. So it’s a bit jauntier than you might expect. It’s a bit poppier. It’s like they’ve inverted the subversion. So they don’t look quite right, and they also don’t sound quite right.
While the original plan, of taking relatively straightforward indie songs and wrecking them with noise and feedback, gave rise to something quite exciting, they now try and play those songs normally, and it isn’t as exciting.
Some of it comes off better. Summer Of Hate and Sleep Forever both seem to have survived the spit and polish with their scuzzy charm intact and I Wanna Kill is a perfect encapsulation of what they’re trying to do. All motorik drive, gaping squalls of guitar distortion and a perfectly insouciant vocal.
There’s a history of producing great music by taking something conventional and deliberately screwing with it. There’s less of a great history of then attempting to unscrew it. Crocodiles would do well to remember that.