Recording information: Silicon Carne Studios, México, D.F.
When Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell started the scuzz pop duo Crocodiles, it's unlikely that they imagined they would ever make an album as unapologetically pop as Boys. Their previous record, Crimes of Passion, took their sound to unprecedented realms of hookiness, slickness, and radio-ready digestibility. It was also their best record yet. Boys gives it a solid run for its title, though. Working with new producer Martin Thulin in Mexico City, the duo recorded a batch of songs that are so catchy and fun that, even when getting a little serious, they still stick in the brain like freshly chewed bubblegum. What's good is that they don't sacrifice any of the guitar noise or blown-out reverb that they've utilized since their origin; instead, they've refined and focused it, much as the Jesus and Mary Chain did along the way -- only Crocodiles never sound like phonies. They are still the same sex-obsessed weirdos, only now they make songs you might hear on the soundtrack of a CW show. The rollicking "Hard" or swaying "Peroxide Hearts" would certainly sound good there or anywhere; the Latin pop-influenced "Kool TV," too. Basically, the entire album has the potential to reach new fans who like snappy, slightly scuffed-up pop songs, while still making those who need noise and dirt happy. The guys don't just do silly little pop songs though. There are a couple of deep-blue ballads that give the album some balance and depth. The severely melodramatic "Blue" shows they can craft something with some real emotional power, and the girl group-ish "The Boy Is a Tramp" brings some swoony atmosphere while featuring some very cinematic strings and keyboard flourishes. Crimes of Passion may have been where Crocodiles became a great pop band; Boys is where they solidify that position and really start to have some fun with it. Odds are good that anyone who checks this out will have equal amounts of fun, maybe even more. ~ Tim Sendra