Once hailed by Juice Magazine as the best Australian band since the Birthday Party, Sydney’s 90’s rock staples Crow have reformed to release Arcane, their first album in 12 years. With their original line-up headed by songwriter’s Peter Fenton and Peter Archer, Crow have delivered a record with all the qualities that made them one of the 90’s most iconic Australian acts.
Back in the late 90’s, Juice Magazine was pretty much my life manual. Juice dictated my taste in music and gave me a rapport with the newsagent that was built once a month in the hour after school. Bands like The Fauves, You Am I and Crow popped up on their sampler discs and assured me that it was these bands that I loved more than any other despite never actually owning any of their albums. I’d just play the sampler’s over and over again. For me, the 90’s were a simpler time. I hadn’t started drinking, people still used Yahoo as their search engine and as far as I know, there was no such thing as an mp3. Then, for some reason, I got into Nu-Metal for a year and didn’t even realise Juice stopped making magazines around the same time that Crow stopped making music. Nowadays, every copy of Juice that I owned has long been recycled, the sampler’s have been chucked, my music exists in the form of Gigabytes rather than Metres (of stacked CD’s) and Crow are back playing music again. Welcome to 2010.
This long between drinks, you’d half expect a Crow album in 2010 to be nostalgic, maybe a little weak, maybe a bit of a novelty; but at the end of the day (or album), it’s comforting to realise that it’s, to put it simply, good music. It’s swooning rock untouched by the indie trends of the last decade, which makes it a unique beast in its own right. Touches of lapsteel on tracks like The Editor’s Gone and Knee Deep in Mud gives a country flavoured contrast to the Joy Division-esque sound of She’s Higher Than the Light, while Almost Saturday walks the line of the more reserved moments of You Am I or the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Even the album’s opener, Ghost At the Crossroads has an atmosphere reminiscent of BJM or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club that’s fitting to the album’s whole. In the sounds of ‘Arcane’, you can draw comparisons to some of rocks finest acts of recent history, without ever thinking it unoriginal.
In ‘Arcane‘, Crow have created an album of great interest and high quality, taking on aspects of the many different branches of rock to form something that is uniquely impressive. At no stage do they rely on a specific style, yet it’s all held together with a tone and atmosphere that carries throughout. It’s a collection of very distinct tracks that are never out of place next to each other, and the result is a very fine record that speaks volumes of what a band on a 12 year hiatus can do on their comeback. Juice Magazine may be long dead, but Crow are alive and kicking, with a record that’s just as impressive as anything they put out in their prime.
‘Arcane’ by Crow is out now on Nonzero Records.