Frighteningly vivid lyrics entwined in catchy melodies...
Despite 'Tragedy Rocks' being their debut album, London five-piece The Crimea have already won plenty of recognition from their peers, touring with Travis, Kings of Leon and The Bravery, and have been favourably compared to the likes of Flaming Lips, Elliott Smith and Leonard Cohen. It's also worthy of note that lead singer Davey McManus had his book of poetry and short stories 'Unamazing Disgraces' published last year. Unsurprising when you listen to the imaginative lyrical quality of this album.
Opening with what John Peel called, 'the best song I've heard in years', 'White Russian Galaxy' begins with a rather serious sounding piano intro, before emerging into relatively simple but beautifully catchy indie rock; it also provides the first introduction to McManus' rough-round-the-edges voice and searching lyrics. 'Lottery Winners On Acid' sounds like it was written for a steel band, with a perfectly fitting, trippy rhythm and a warm hazy melody that will float around your head for an eternity, while 'Opposite Ends' takes a frightening turn towards a darker, echoey atmosphere until McManus bursts in with spoken, at times almost rapped, vocals before climaxing in a passionate, near-frenzied chorus.
Meanwhile, 'Baby Boom' returns to a more conventional sound, and it's easy to let its cute, swirly melody, bluesy harmonica and mournful guitar wash over you. But that's only half of the experience and would be ignoring the amazing lyrical quality of the song writing. If you can bear to have you heart-wrenched in this way, allow yourself to listen to the honesty and yearning in this song and you'll find that you can't help but be affected despite its deceptively happy melody. 'Girl Just Died' picks up the tempo once again and is probably the album's most radio-friendly track with its catchy melody and jangly soft-rock sound.
After the slower sway of 'Losing My Hair' and the slightly cosmic 'Bad Vibrations' comes the fabulous 'The Miserabilist Tango'; not as desperately miserable as its title suggests, but instead, almost hopeful in its despair and an anthemic call to arms for all those who feel that they just can't take anymore. After climaxing in atmospheric layered vocals, pounding drums, smashing cymbals and weeping electric guitar, the album is brought to a close with 'Gazillions of Violins' and the particularly raw 'Someone's Crying', both of which are haunted by the musical-box quality of a twinkling piano.
It might seem as if I'm labouring the point to continually refer to the lyrical content, but every little tragedy that McManus relates in his lyrics is built out of vivid, often unsettling images that leap out of the songs and dance in front of your eyes. Couple this with the sauntering, catchy melodies and occasional bursts of spiky passion and you have the proof that, in this case, tragedy really does rock.