Sitting down to review Modern Crowds, a new group hailing from Ashbury Park, NJ, was an interesting experience. On one hand, I heard a lot of innovative, weird noise coming out of my headphones that I quite enjoyed, but on the other hand were hooks and song structures that appeared to me to be pretty derivative. Throughout their debut EP titled Go, I continually had the feeling that I had heard most of the songs before, but at the same time I enjoyed a lot of them and felt that they did interesting things with them.
The odd combination of simple structures and chord progressions articulated in a glitchy, effect-heavy fashion works pretty well for Modern Crowds. However I feel that they can definitely work on taking some of that uniqueness and translating it into their core songwriting as opposed to merely the ambience that surrounds it.
When listening to the lead guitar lines in Go, it is hard not to think of Jonny Greenwood with the piercing distortion, glitchy effects and the simultaneous feel of sounding out of control and chaotic yet perfectly in control and organized. I quite enjoyed the buildups orchestrated predominantly by guitars in songs such as “Where Did We Go Wrong” and “Green Light.”
I thought that the drumming on the EP was solid as well, creating a nice palette for the guitars and vocals to exist. The vocals throughout the EP seemed to be a bit overly-dramatic, especially on songs such as “Where Did We Go Wrong,” which was kind of disappointing, as they did not really match the instrumentation. I would have liked something weirder and more crooning, almost as if the vocals themselves were to become another instrument, to more properly convey the rest of the sounds.
Looking at the EP objectively, it absolutely shows promise. Modern Crowds certainly possess the ability to make interesting music; I just think they need to step away from their approach in regards to structure and let the sounds take them elsewhere. I would really like to see them pursue their weirder side as a basis for their sound as opposed to an addition.
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