Asbury Park quartet Modern Crowds sound great on debut EP, but don’t really push the envelope
If Paul Westerberg was dead he’d be turning over in his grave. Luckily he isn’t and isn’t. A reason for this hypothetical event to happen is the Modern Crowds debut EP Go. Westerberg’s presence hangs over it, like a tree’s shadow falling over you on a particularly sunny day. Well, maybe not, but you get the point. Modern Crowds is made up of Joseph Pellegrinelli on vocals/guitar, Adam Baczkowski on guitar, Michael McGowan on bass and Charlie Kupilik on drums and Baczkowski helped out behind the scenes too.
Where Did We Go Wrong kicks the Go off. Visceral hypnotic guitars intertwine with pounding drums and seismic bass. All the while Pellegrinelli‘s droney vocals keep things moving forward, but at the same time, keeping everything grounded. The highlight is instrumental breakdown about ninety seconds from the end. Malestroms of guitars swirl around us until, from nowhere, Pellegrinelli’s vocals cut through it and lead us out. Paradise sounds like a mixture of David Bowie and Green Day, but before you get excited, it doesn’t really do anything as interested as it could. There isn’t anything wrong with it, but at the same time and to quoting Courtney Barnett its, pedestrian at best.
As with most thing, Modern Crowds have saved the best till last. Green Light is a melodic, slightly tear jerking, number that is chocked full of Beatles-esque motifs. Think Dead Prudence covered by a melodic Guided by Voices and you’re on the right tracks. The message here, as has been subtly suggested throughout the EP, Modern Crowds have a softer side. It’s a fitting way to end EP. Instead of closing with some big dumb rock, like the opener, it gives us something to think about.
The downside to the EP is that we’ve heard it all before. Yes the EP sounds great, the drums are tight, guitars claustrophobic, bass throbbing and vocals guttural, but the lyrics are trite at times and feel like an after-thought. I totally understand that Modern Crowds are a new project and still finding their collective feet, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt as overall it’s a fun record. However their next release will show if they’re the real thing or just weekend warriors.