Over the course of the last two years, Abe Vigoda have slowly, drip by drip, detached themselves from a record that blew many a grown human being’s mind. Skeleton was as unafraid as an album gets, frenetically parting pieces together to form a punk rock gem, never pulling its punches. It harboured a sound so unique that to shake it off entirely would be stupid, practically offering a new band the chance to pick up the pieces and claim it for themselves. Crush, naturally, casts an eye over at its predecessor, at times succumbing to its bold method, but apart from that, Ave Vigoda bring forth one of the boldest re-inventions of a band over the past 12 months, when a shake up wasn’t even required.
It comes as a sigh of a relief when you consider the first post-Skeleton step for the four-piece came in the shape of ‘Reviver’; a well-constructed EP priding itself on invention but quite crucially, lacking in the hooks and infectiousness that charged the previous effort. It came across like a backroom project; experimentation that the band felt they ought to share with fans. The response was largely subdued.
But in first single ‘Throwing Shade’ and its companions comes not just re-invention but also progression. In amongst the undying love for hooks comes a musicality that found itself unable to shine through in the group’s last two albums (the aforementioned ‘Skeleton’ and debut ‘Kid City’) as well as a tuned-in application of electronics. The complexity of it all is at first, completely overwhelming. One listen in and you appreciate what’s before you – both the ambitiousness and the sheer scale of it all – but to get your head around it all at once is asking too much.
Give it four, five takes and by that time the melodies, shrouded in a playlike energy, begin to pierce through the gaping hole, standing out, side by side like storm clouds. The minimalism of synth-formed ‘Repeating Angel’; the erratic structure of closer ‘We Have To Mask’; the stripped-down simplicity of ‘Pure Violence’ all begin to piece together, forming an album that can’t be lambasted for its pursuit of the new.
The spotlight falls upon Michael Vidal, a characteristic vocalist who until now, didn’t quite expose himself as the vital piece holding it all together. On Skeleton his voice kept a steady, un-jolted pace, ignoring the frenzy that spun its web around his words. Crush continues to show Vidal fitting the mood, set by his bandmates, with perfection. His low, downbeat tones morph into short, passionate cries in ‘To Tears’. During ‘Repeating Angel’ his syllables are stretched within their tether, drawn out and bordering on slurred, purring the declarative; “you are my, consequential girl” with vigor and snarl. It’s on ‘Crush’ that the leader of the pack becomes the most essential part of this labyrinth.
Vidal’s taciturn personality on ‘Throwing Shade’ is met with a simple, house drum pattern. That’s as uncharacteristic as Abe Vigoda could possibly get. Gerrardo Guerrero’s departure of drummer would explain that. Perhaps the addition of Dave Chadwick, who seemingly draws influence from different quarters than his prototype, has given the band the base from which to evolve on.
For ‘Throwing Shade’ hinted at just how dramatic a change in sound there could be in Crush. An in truth, yes, what follows is a 40 minute extension of the first single. Handpick any song in fact and you’ve just about got the ethos of Crush sewn up in one. Track by track, you’re left on the edge of your seat, because each song could realistically go anywhere at any point. And the same can be said for Abe Vigoda and their future. This album sweeps away the cobwebs of previous ideas, introducing a dozen new outlooks. Vidal and co. now have the option of picking and choosing whichever mood/pace/atmosphere suits them best. This versatile outfit can work with pretty much anything, so the future looks promising.