What’s this? Have lo-fi San Diego duo Crocodiles turned down the guitars and gone soft on us? Yes, Endless Flowers is a lot cleaner than the scuzzy noise they hit us with in their first two albums, but it’s still packed with sizzling levels of distortion and Brandon Welchez’s unimpressed, lazy vocals. Only this time, it comes coated in a thick layer of gloss, less damaged simplicity, than carefully constructed, tended to, lo-fi.
Title track ‘Endless Flowers’ sets the tone, sugared ’60s sounds cut with glass, that little edge cracking the notion of innocent pop. Crocodiles are nothing if not consistent, but cling too tightly to what they know. ‘Bubblegum Trash’ is a sweet indie pop song, full of sugary references to ‘sticky sweet’ words ‘rotting my teeth’, but it’s a knowing reference to what’s on offer. From its intro, ‘My Surfing Lucifer’ sits awkwardly in the midst of summer psychedelica, a welcome release of shoegaze distortion and broken-down echoing speech which morphs into something akin to a Spiritualized tribute.
But the greatest impact comes from ‘No Black Clouds For Dee Dee’, a song about Welchez’s wife. Perhaps because it’s made more real by knowing Dee Dee exists, or perhaps because it is a warm, punchy, nostalgic number: either way, its light swagger and controlled emotion resonates. As it is, Endless Flowers isn’t a bad album, far from it. These guys know their references, they know their way around their influences, but are often stifled by them. Still, when it comes to accessible noise with a saccharine twist, Crocodiles haven’t lost their bite.