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"Chasing After Ghosts"

The Crookes – Chasing After Ghosts
22 March 2011, 09:00 Written by Sharon Kean

Picking up from the less frayed edges of their home-recorded debut mini-album Dreams of Another Day Sheffield-based olde romantics The Crookes recount tales of lives and loves as they smoothly skiffle through their first full length LP Chasing After Ghosts.

With a look and sound reminiscent of a soft-core Libertines, spliced with the janglier end of The Smiths back catalogue, this traveling band of minstrel pilgrims set out to woo one-and-all with their poetic tales that progress through everyday life with a vintage feel.

Lead singer George Waite breathlessly croons like a clean Pete Doherty and laments like Morrissey at his twee-est, which paired with simple melodies and excitable banjos and guitars, makes the band’s music almost irresistable.

‘Bloodshot Days’ is the most chart-friendly offering with its tinges of doo-wop and echoed chorus and marching band drums giving it a 60s girl band feel – which is unsurprising from a group who include The Ronettes among their influences. What’s slightly odd, though, is that this is bed-fellowed with a distinctly 80s new wave kick that comes courtesy of The Crookes’ appreciation of Edwin Collins’ Orange Juice and Aztec Camera.

It is a shame that some of the home-fashioned acoustic rawness that these guys did so well on Dreams of Another Day (songs were recorded in a kitchen, with a wellington boot drafted in to produce reverb) doesn’t transfer to the glossy pages of the debut. ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’ could easily have been penned and performed by Pete himself, which perhaps explains its absence, but 6Music favourite and indie disco-maker ‘Backstreet Lovers’ is sadly left behind too…

In their place ‘Bright Young Things’ brings perky 80s guitar riffs and a skippy new wave-schooled romp through the countryside. Then there is the equally excitable ‘Chorus of Fools’ with its fluttering guitars and flightily gasped lyrics being enough to propel even the shyest shoes onto the dancefloor.

‘Godless Girl’ is all soulful shoe-gazing passion mixed with echoey 80s-style vocals and is perhaps the most original track on the record. At the opposite end of the pole, the opening vocal on ‘The Crookes Laundry Murder, 1922′ would make even Mr Morrissey himself do a quick double-take, as Waite howls, “Take me back to 1922…”.

The Crookes have clearly mastered the lazy softness of Pete Doherty’s poems and despite choosing to leave out the thrashing guitars of Up The Bracket, could easily pick up from where The Libertines unceremoniously stumbled and fell. It’s like the band have bottled the early Buddy Holly-esque love songs they used to sing a capella with glockenspeils for drums, and added a pumped-up Wall of Sound to make it more accessible and admittedly, more relevant to the troop of well-read young twenty somethings to whom they are singing. It’s catchy, optimistic and clever enough to impress those who read the lyrics, and although not entirely original is well-poised to win the hearts of love-struck fans.

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