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Crinkles, Italian Ice EP 

Album Review

click to enlarge cd-crinkles.jpg

(Heavypet, CD, digital download)

The story of Burlington-born act Crinkles is one of sporadic, enigmatic excellence. In 2008, they released their self-titled debut EP to virtually no fanfare, as if it simply materialized out of thin air. The EP made a featherlight but indelible mark before Crinkles once again evaporated into the ether. The following year, the band released a 10-inch vinyl single of that EP’s signature cut, “Nightlife,” as well as another EP, Reemed. The latter was a remix project, helmed by four separate artists who infused the band’s music with a distinct electro ethos. That EP’s closing track, a dreamy psych-pop take on “Nightlife” by the One AM Radio, seems to have provided a sonic touchstone for their newest release, Italian Ice EP. A lush exposition of sun-bleached art-rock, the EP is a solar flare, a flash of signal-scattering brilliance that further deepens the wondrous mystery that is Crinkles.

Since last we heard them, Crinkles have relocated to Brooklyn. With Kyle Kabel added to the original lineup of Nicholas and Jonathan Campolo, Dan Crosby and Andrew Chugg, the group is now a quintet. As on its debut offering, the band employs a shared approach to singing and songwriting. The EP’s six tracks feature four different lead vocalists and were penned by three separate writers. However, no individual songwriting or performance credits are listed, which suggests a sort of collective brain trust, an idea strengthened by the project’s seamless cohesion. Thematically and sonically, it is a fluid work in spite of the many hands that helped mold it.

“Bend” leads off and presents the low-key, reverb-washed aesthetic that largely defines the record. Fans of Real Estate should find plenty to latch onto here. With waves of ringing guitar and shimmering electro tones, the song boasts a breezy ambience similar to that of the band’s 2008 self-titled debut. But this is hardly mimicry, or otherwise symptomatic of indie Brooklynitis. Rather, the song’s serpentine riffs and cavernous feel seem like a natural extension, or perhaps a brightening, of the darker ideas explored on Crinkles’ initial outing.

“Lamb” ratchets up the intensity as the band balances shifting reverb with ragged distortion. The hard-driving tune is the record’s most explosive cut and a definite highlight.

“Quartz” teases the electro influence from Reemed before blooming into a jangly, kaleidoscopic gem.

The title track is unbridled, summery pop. Laid-back, dreamy and with clear nods to 1960s beach rock, it’s as soothing and thirst quenching as its namesake.

“Forgetter” brings the mood back down in a swirl of yawning organ and probing guitar; a staccato bass line counters the melancholy vocal work adorning the track’s upper atmosphere.

The EP closes on “Hot Doubt,” which corrals the project’s various sonic themes into a tumbling, unpredictable maelstrom before dissipating in an exhausted conclusion. It’s a fine finish to yet another breathtaking release from Crinkles.

Crinkles’ Italian Ice EP is available for download at crinkles.heavypet.us. The band performs at the Monkey House this Sunday, January 16, with the Capstan Shafts.

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Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Bio:
Dan Bolles is the Seven Days music editor. His column "Soundbites" appears weekly.

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