Released August 14th—Independent
When a band fulfills their contract with their label they are faced with a choice—do we re-sign or try something new? After the release of 2010’s Vagabonds, The Classic Crime was faced with the same choice—do we stay with Tooth & Nail or do we go independent? While the freedom of being an independent artist is tempting, it comes with extra hurdles as well; namely, finances. Without a label backing your album and covering the costs that go into making a record how will you fund your music? As many others have done over the last few years, The Classic Crime turned to their fans for support via Kickstarter. To make a long story short, not only did The Classic Crime’s fans respond and fund the album completely (a $30,000 goal), but they contributed an extra $56,278 to the project. As a result of their fans support, The Classic Crime has presented us with Phoenix.
The brooding “One Man Army (Intro)” sets the tone and, along with album closer “I Will Wait (Outro)”, serves as a bookend for the entire album. “One Man Army” slowly builds into a massive chorus before fading into the groove of “You And Me Both”. As with many of the other songs on this album, the choruses are especially strong and great for singing along to, especially on the group vocal refrains. The anthemic and straight-forward “Young Again” follows the jammy “You And Me Both”, and the contrast between the two tracks works well.
The Jekyll and Hyde tale of “Beautiful Darkside” and the searching “Heaven And Hell” continue with the formula of rock songs that slowly build into massive sing-along choruses. Another hurdle of going independent is proving that you can make it without your label, and The Classic Crime seems to have realized that while making this album. Similarly to the character of the Phoenix, The Classic Crime was issuing a statement about the rebirth of their band. It seems like this motivation to prove themselves to everyone led to choosing to make this album as massive and epic as possible.
One of my favorite tracks from Phoenix comes next—“The Precipice”. Instead of overusing the auxiliary instruments and epic elements of their sound, The Classic Crime practices restraint and subtly uses them to emphasize the song. The addition of strings when vocalist Matt MacDonald wishes he knew how to play violin, orchestral drum hits, and a rolling piano melody form a beautiful and tender ballad that again becomes an epic—only to close with an a cappella chorus.
The bluesy “Let Me Die” stands out due to the electronic squeals found in the bridge, but otherwise follows the same pattern as the other songs. Early fan-favorite “Glass Houses” comes next in the lineup and begins a streak of my favorite songs on the album. The Classic Crime uses familiar metaphors and imagery in a new way to tell this tale of someone who finally realizes that they aren’t as invincible as they thought. The epic gang vocal bridge contributes to this song being a hit in their recent live sets.
While much of this album is reminiscent of the band’s sophomore release, moody emo-rock album The Silver Cord, “Dead Rose” and “Painted Dreams” bear more similarities to the simple alt-rock of Vagabonds. On these tracks the band really shines and is able to show their skill as musicians and songwriters. The soaring vocals, beautiful harmonies, and upbeat music act as a glimpse of sunlight amid the dark remainder of the album.
The album closes with “What I’d Give Up” and “City Of Orphans”, two songs that are very different but work together well to close out the album. In “What I’d Give Up” the band talks about the challenges of life on the road as a touring band, but it seems to be more of a promise than a complaint. Next up is “City Of Orphans”, a tale of loneliness and searching. The light strums of the guitar and the subtle slide guitar in the background serve their purpose of supporting the song—not overpowering it. There is a build as well, and it closes the album on a high note before fading into “I Will Wait (Outro)”.
I think that The Classic Crime has proven they can do it on their own. With this album you can definitely feel the desperation and drive behind the music as they try to do the best they can. As well as funding the album with their Kickstarter, the band was able to fund a two-part national tour which is taking place now throughout the western United States. If you live in one of the cities they’re coming to, I’d recommend checking it out—the band has a great setlist picked out and puts on a great show night after night. (Be on the lookout for my review of their record release/KickstarTOUR kickoff show in Seattle to be posted soon)
4/5 (The lack of variety caused many of the songs to fade together, and many of the songs seemed overpowered by bells and whistles. The songs that showed some variety or didn’t feel over-done really stood out.)
- One Man Army (Intro)
- You And Me Both
- Young Again
- Beautiful Darkside
- Heaven And Hell
- The Precipice
- Let Me Die
- Glass Houses
- Dead Rose
- Painted Dreams
- What I’d Give Up
- City Of Orphans
- I Will Wait (Outro)