[sic] Magazine

Abe Vigoda – Crush

It seems Abe Vigoda (the band, not cult star of The Godfather films) are as capricious as their itchy rhythms. From the noisy no-wave of their debut to the cowbell-heavy worldbeat-punk of its successor, all the way to their more straight-forwardly indie Reviver EP, one of LA’s more left-of-centre offerings have long been difficult to pin down.

Michael Vidal ‘s cast now continue that trend with Crush, seemingly having been on an 80s ticket during its writing. Nevertheless, they remain entirely their own beast at this its release. So, in with synths and hooks out with angles and abrasions, there’s a new-found fluidity to the band’s sound. In part, this is perhaps thanks to Vidal’s toning down of his yelping in favour of a depressed drawl, but what is certain is the band’s famed “tropical” flourishes – here arriving courtesy of tinny 8-bit keyboards – are now few and far between.

Happily, the result remains on the credible side of commercial viability and Crush opens strongly. The danceable “Sequins” is fresh-faced and, perhaps surprisingly, rather sleekly delivered. More surprisingly still, “Throwing Shade” runs with that dance vibe to create an undeniably house-like motif. Easily the most radio-friendly of the Abe Vigoda catalogue to date, it’s only tempered late on with pronounced drumming and Health -lite guitar spikes.

In turn, the title track is a welcome mess of competing tempos interwoven with synth hooks, thoroughly rocking rhythms and closing passage of distortion. However, the jittery, chiming mid-section is arguably, but forgivably, neither here nor there. Yet, “Repeating Angel” is worthy of note due to its intricate and mute construct built on percussive synths and a bed of repeated, bubbling guitar scales.

Just as Crush opened strongly, so does it close. Taking the aspirated swell usually attributed to British Sea Power , “To Tears” also bears witness to those irrepressible jaunty tropical keys, whereas “Beverly Slope” next returns the album to its new-found type. Part menacing, Cure -like gloom and undercut with militaristic drums, it perversely subdues the head of optimism “To Tears” brought with glee. Providing Crush with a double-take moment on its final track, “We Have To Mask” slides in with a warped and nauseating (in a good way) drone, which is then run through with a plodding bass line and an echo-y vocal turn from Vidal that is pure Bowie .

It increasingly seems Abe Vigoda will always be experimental, and Crush is another very solid stepping stone on that journey. You’d be wise to tag along.

Advised downloads: “Crush” and “We Have To Mask”.

~Crush is out the 20th September 2010 on Bella Union .~