CRX – ‘New Skin’ (2016)

The ten track/thirty-minute runtime for CRX’s debut ‘New Skin’ is refreshing in a world where there is an inundation of bloated releases that require mind-numbing attention levels just to dissect their meanings. For the most part, ‘New Skin’ is a fun romp. It’s indicative that the band just enjoy playing together, and stay away from the need to actively communicate an original message, or to stand out from the crowd.

CRX is fronted by The Strokes lead guitarist Nick Valensi and this new project marks his lyrical and lead vocal debut. To further support this record and pretty much guarantee success, the band recruits Josh Homme as producer, and thus his musical influence is evident. Whilst at times Valensi’s lyrics are amateurish, his vocals are mostly good. ‘Anything’ being the biggest lyrical offender here, however it isn’t the literary skills or communication of deeper meanings that the band excel at. It’s the music.

CRX put forward an eclectic mix of alt/hard rock, with slight hints of metal. With its fast tempo and scuzzy bassline, ‘On Edge’ is basically a two-minute homage to old-school Motorhead. Valensi’s lead guitar prowess is shown through his multi-layered and interwoven licks that essentially become the star of the record.

‘Broken Bones’ screams Queens of the Stone Age with its dominant, chugging riff and floaty chorus where Valensi softly croons the track title. ‘Slow Down’ possesses a similar tempo and features a mellow Reggae aesthetic, formed from a backbone of fuzzed-up bass and sharp, layered guitar. Valensi’s vocals are at their most effective here during the highly-infectious chorus. Instrumentally and stylistically, it’s worth mentioning that these tracks are outliers in comparison to the rest of the record.

As a whole, the album suffers from a lack of cohesive identity, yet it’s the resulting outliers that become the most memorable tunes to take away from it. If they were to follow up this record, perhaps a defined concept or narrowing down of music styles would benefit them. However, at the moment the band just sound like they enjoy playing and jamming together, which consequently bodes well for a potentially cracking live show, albeit a short one.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Essential tracks: Broken Bones // Give It Up // Slow Down

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