September 14, 2010 - Fat Possum
Buried in fuzz and slathered in reverb, Sleep Forever could be Crocodiles making their bid for voice of the no-fi generation—or at least a plea for their noise to not get lost in a sea of, well, other noise. The one-two punch of album openers "Mirrors" (a gradually blossoming pop gem fueled by chirping synthesizers and a wall of guitars) and "Stoned To Death" (based on a slow, stomping drum reminiscent of the Monks after a handful of downers) hint that the band might have what it takes to stand out among the pack.
As the album plays out, Crocodiles tend to focus on the latter song type, sounding as if the Brian Jonestown Massacre (minus the fist fights) smoked a ton of weed in a cave before firing up the four-track—which is fine, really. However, once the anthemic "Hearts Of Love" comes in toward the album's end, it becomes apparent that Crocodiles can write great, immediately memorable melodies and put them in an uplifting and exciting context. So why do they spend half a record jamming on repetitive grooves with all their effects pedals turned up to 11? Haven't both these concepts been beaten to the ground at this point?
Admittedly, the grit adds to the charm of the droning "Girl In Black," and the 8-bit pulse of "All My Hate And Hexes Are For You" gives its hummable refrain a feeling of instant nostalgia. But there are points where all the extra bullshit (such as the never-ending echo at the end of "Billy Speed") makes songs practically unlistenable well before they're over. Sleep Forever is a fine album, but you get the sense that if the band focused on their pop sensibilities as much as they do their more seemingly aesthetic inclinations, it would have been a great album.