Cryptacize‘s co-founder and guitarist Chris Cohen used to be in Deerhoof, a band that specialised in creating earworm pop melodies then distorting, slicing and speeding them up until they sounded like everyone in the unit was in direct competition with each other. Cryptacize aren’t that offbeat a band, but there’s still something uniquely odd about the way the songs on Mythomania are structured. They’re much more straightforwardly melodic and ideologically lighter, aided by former Kill Rock Stars solo artist Nedelle Torrisi’s dreamy vocals, but not averse to dropping in the odd offbeat moment.
A careful melodic touch gives the sound of most of the album an overt 1960s texture without being strictly retro, or indeed retro-futurists. Their idea of back referencing is the way in which the track ‘Tail And Mane’ almost sounds like a more icy version of the Lulu/Sandie Shaw school of 1960s singers. Perhaps a little Merseybeat in its yearning love vocal, bouncing beat and twangy solo, albeit forced aside every so often by odd electronic noise. On the likes of psychedelic melodrama ‘Blue Tears’ their folkily, questingly expressive nature resembles nobody so much as 1970s prog outfit Curved Air, at other times like 4AD’s mid to late 80s house band This Mortal Coil. There’s also a drowsy, altered state complexion inherent in songs like ‘What You Can’t See Is’, where the drums patter at twice the speed, coming across like a David Lynch soundtrack spooky ballad. ‘One Block Wonders’, meanwhile, gradually unfolds its spidery guitars and fidgety rhythms, eventually exploding in a fuzzed out solo while Torrisi channels All About Eve’s Julianne Regan throughout.
It’s rare to find a record where you can have a problem with the exhibition of both too many and too few ideas. The overt retro references do fall away as Mythomania progresses, but for a band with warped pop ambitions, very few of the ideas actually grab the attention. There’s too much ice in the proverbial veins for personal attachment, perhaps. The likes of the delicate ‘Galvanise’, with its brittle subtle synths and piano briefly giving way to a stately march that serves only as a coda, are interesting exercises. But, while they don’t necessarily harbour faults, there’s not much to hook you onto them either. Further listening suggests such cagey, mysterious songs have their intricate subtleties and at least the idiosyncrasies aren’t played up too much as such, but there’s still little of the emotional hook Torrisi’s vocal style suggests or the cinematic treatment that could have given Cryptacize something to really play with. As it is, you’re left waiting for the breathless leaps forward in melodic style that never arrive.