I’ll be honest, when this came into the inbox at MV towers and I heard the first 30 seconds of opening song “Wicked Ways”, I thought I’d got it sussed.
I was going to review it, I’d already worked that out. That was obvious from the intro’s groove. Then the first line: “Still awake at 4am, wondering how we’re back to this again”, had me formulating the usual musings on how I don’t sleep, how these words applied to me and doubtless many others.
Then they were a trio, and I always love a three piece, there’s something just well-balanced about one of those, so there’s a paragraph too. Sorted. Job done. I can put the big bag of clichés away for another day.
The trouble is that Crooked Shapes aren’t arsed with my preconceived ideas of what they are going to sound like, favouring instead to navigate their own path through what is – and this is fair enough – a classic rock landscape.
Because, 15 seconds after they’ve done the standard opening, that has me reaching for my nearest Inglorious comparisons, the harmonies kick in. And they are so stacked that they’d make Jeff Lynne smile.
And that, basically, is what Crooked Shapes do, the scamps. They take the formula, and they happily play with it. “Let It Go” to that end, is on one hand a confident, classy thing, but then on the other it has more organ in it than Deep Purple and there’s a bass groove in the middle from George Ives, after which a solo appears, as if from nowhere, but casually tossed out of George Twydell’s back pocket.
Then there’s “The Champion” which boasts the opening riff of a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal song from 1980, but then deftly ditches the denim and leather – which in fairness, did bring us all together, after all – in favour of a genuine AOR chorus. All before it does the metal thing again. These are leads, you see, of a proper heavy band, and that’s the key.
“Fallout” is a worthy title track. The work of a band that has genuine ambitions, but they intend to get there on their own terms.
The proof of this? Well, the last song “A Life Without Rock N Roll” is ten minutes long. And its not a prog song either. It’s just a rock song that is perfectly comfortable in its own skin. It imagines a post-apocalyptic world where the guitars don’t chime. And really, Crooked Shapes don’t fancy that at all.
You can expect to hear a lot more from them in the future too. “Fallout” is a confident, compelling, and slightly left field start. All of which is to their credit – and you had best not second guess where they go next.