Crocodiles | Endless Flowers
San Diegan five-piece Crocodiles have been together since 2008, churning out two impressive noise-pop albums in two years in 2009 – Summer of Hate – and 2012 – Sleep Forever. While both were good, Endless Flowers marks the first time that Crocodiles sharpen their teeth and produce something with real bite. There is no seismic shift in sound behind this, or studio trickery courtesy of a wunder-producer, but the simple feat of writing sharper melodies, crisper harmonies and, to put it plainly, just far better songs.
The scuzzy bubblegum of the opening title track sets the tone for an album that, while indebted to The Strokes and the garage rock elite, offers much of its own personality. The vocal fuzz applied to Brandon Welchez’s microphone may be straight out of the how-to-make-cool-songs-sound-cooler handbook but the melodies his voice grapples with are uniquely strong. When he sings the opening line of the record, “I’ve waited here…on this crooked staircase with this melody” you get the impression that these are songs, and indeed melodies, that have been waited on and then meticulously honed until they are thoroughbreds. The most impressive part of it all is that the group deliver them as though they’re boxfresh.
The sugary pop of ‘No Black Clouds For Dee Dee’ recalls Weezer at their more saccharine, a tip-toeing bassline underpinning whirling synth and a slack melody, while the fist-pumping pomp stomp of the following ‘Electric Death Song’ ensures that Endless Flowers is an album that gallops out of the gate and rarely lets up. In fact, the album only lets up for the plodding Oasis-meets-The-Jesus-And-Mary-Chain of ‘Hung Up On A Flower’ and it is by far the weakest song here – it is the only weak song here – and proves that Crocodiles work best when they keep the tempo up and the songs truly fizz. That it is followed by two minutes of feedback and droning German language which acts as the introduction to ‘My Surfing Lucifer’ marks out the seven minutes of this recort that isn’t inch perfect. When it does begin after its lengthened inaugeration the track is a bounding puppy of a song, so pleased to lick your face after what has come before it.
Crocodiles may never graduate into the big league of the indie scene, their place on the outskirts almost heightens the joy at discovering such a colossal record. At a time where genuinely great guitar records are rather thin on the ground you can be damn sure that Endless Flowers deserves to be recognised as one of the best of the best. For it’s not just a great gutiar record, it’s a great record fullstop.