My initial reaction when I started listening to the self-titled album by Crybaby was one of astonishment. I couldn’t believe this was a 2012 release and checked my notes from Cooperative… I then checked the notes again.
This is a 2012 release!
When it sank in… my subsequent reaction was one of unadulterated awe. This is a truly beautiful rock ’n’ roll album… reminiscent of the best from the Fifties. I don’t know how Danny Coughlan… the man behind Crybaby has done it but it does genuinely sound like a re-release of an album from the fifties… very Roy Orbison… especially when you consider the vocal delivery and the gorgeous guitar-playing.
“Crybaby” is not just swinging ponytails and bobby-socks but faded, oil-soaked Levi’s and worn Chucks too. It is sparse in places… focussing more on the melancholic vocals and guitar than jaunty backbeats and walls of sound. However, the walls of sound are there… and when they appear they are deliciously dark and mischievous.
If I were to attempt to describe it… I would point to a David Lynch film set in the back of beyond in America… something darkly human with sweeping panning shots of the desert and the highway… and the odd flicker of light every-so-often.
That said… whilst “Crybaby” has a distinctly retro feel to it… it has a beauty that makes it timeless and this timelessness makes it so now… so relevant and so necessary as an antidote and cathartic antithesis of all the superfluous nonsense pop that crowds our airwaves.
Yes, pop has always had a necessarily transient now-ness about it… but some of the best examples of pop… especially within rock ’n’ roll… have an effortless timelessness about them that is simply wonderful. Coughlan‘s “Crybaby” has this… and uses it most effectively to create a decidedly unique and intoxicating soundtrack.
The thing I want to know is how! Coughlan‘s craft is exemplary and the curious part of me would love to know how he has made it happen… how he made it sound so good.
And it is so very good. A collection of the most engaging, beguiling songs about the best and worst of life… sparse tunes about love and heartbreak that describe life in all its delightful brokenness and redemptive action. The opening track and single “I Cherish The Heartbreak More Than The Love That I Lost” is a prime example of this… albeit with subtle glockenspiel and a seriously woozy organ near the end of the track.
When Coughlan does backbeats and walls of sound… like “We’re Supposed To Be In Love”, “Shame” or “Twist Of The Knife”… he does them well! Making them utterly engaging and foot-tappingly infectious… whilst still managing to retain the air of melancholy that pervades the whole release.
This is one release that I would happily recommend.