Crompy began this album, The Karmic Loo, more than ten years ago. It has 18 songs on it, most of them three minutes long, which makes sense because there is a British 60s psychedelic pop thing going on and the length of a pop song back then was somewhere around three minutes long. Some of the songs are four or five minutes long, reflecting versatility and modern pop sensibility. Did Crompy really need ten years to craft this quite frankly great debut? Probably not, but it's here, it's now. Also Crompy is a New Zealander. Take that for what it's worth, but when it's regarding psychedelic pop, it's worth quite a lot. The Karmic Loo covers a bunch of topics that range from misanthropy, the throes of young love, the cosmic unfairness of life, comedy and love, love, love, LOVE. Crompy has a nice little petulant growl going, sometimes it makes a song awesome, like in the power-pop opener "Fight to Live" and other times it pushes the track into gushy waters, like in "Live! Love Life!”. It's a distinct sound his larynx makes, like an old man who knows he's grown up but doesn't want to be. Whether it works or not, it does create an attention-getting tension in the songs, which makes for interesting listening during The Karmic Loo's merry moments.
The production is excellent as far as letting all the sounds breath. Each instrument is given its own space for exploration in the track, and the tracks are built with Crompy's voice, not for it. The music as a whole primarily retains a soft, silly folk approach, sometimes suddenly becoming riotous. Indeed some of the more delicately arranged numbers can shift into an Elephant 6 outtake with no warning. Throw in the odd schizophrenic studio touch, and this album has plenty going for it musically. Crompy's lyrics straddle that line between the pleasant pop mechanics of decades past and being so shamelessly saccharine it's sickening. In “Telegram,” Crompy accuses you that "You've been sending me purple butterflies again my love/you've been sending me messages from turtledoves.” He walks a fine line but manages to pull it off for the most part.
The songs as individual components are not boring. But listened to one after the other for nearly 20 tracks, the sound gets a little too familiar. Is that even a factor in reviewing an album since everyone can just shuffle their stuff across the board? At some points Crompy even starts recycling melodies and song structures. "Rohita Bonita" recalls the same nursery rhyme tactics Crompy displays in "Amy.” So did Crompy need ten years to make this album? It doesn't sound like it. What it does sound like is a man having fun with the musical ideals of Syd Barret, Roy Wood and whoever was leading The Pretty Things in songwriting. As far as debuts go, Crompy has already established a sound recognizable as his own and one that begs to be explored further.
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