Sound — 9
Since their formation in 2014, the british horror-punk-with-gothic-undertones Creeper has been in quite a ride for stardom. After three EPs well received by critics and fans alike, they finally released their first full length album earlier this year, in 24th march, 2017. for those who don't know the band, it's history or what are they about (like me, just about two weeks prior to this review), Creeper plays highly energetic music with heavy influences of punk, pop punk and hardcore, and some gothic and dark influences like spices in the meat of their main sound. Think in bands like My Chemical Romance or New Years day, tough, contrary to these bands, the hardcore-punk facet is dominant in almost every song of the LP.
The single “Black Rain” opens the album with some soft piano chords and keyboardist / second vocalist Hannah Greenwood whispers, before the guitars enters the stage, and the punk rock rhythms takes it's place. Like the band itself like to point out, this song shows the range of Creeper sound to newcomers just perfectly, with soft moments layered in keyboards, 'fists in the air' kind of chorus and hard hitting distorted guitars, one of them often playing lead melodies behind the riffs to complement the arrangements.
The arrangements, by the way, are what makes the band stand out in their genre of choice. Since it's clear that they have a lot of different influences, it would be hard to showcase every one of them in their songs, and even so, the results could be lukewarm at best. But they manage to blend all these different styles into their main sound just fine. For example, hardly any of the songs in this album keeps the punk-hardcore approach throughout it's whole run time, and it's not common for the tunes to change the tempo down a bit for some less aggressive moments before returning with full force for the sing along chorus, like in the single and one of my personal favorites “Hiding With Boys”. Some songs starts like ballads with delicate acoustic guitars and violins, or just piano and vocals, like the closer “I choose to live” or the single “Misery” (yeah, this album got a lot of singles) , before stepping again in rock territory to deliver a sing along chorus with full force. Other cool thing about the song structures presented here that is that these songs are really short, none of them reaching the 3:50 mark (the longest song has exactly 3:48 minutes). This helps the album to keep itself interesting without getting you tired of it, and the songs itself are varied enough to make the listener come back to it and listen to more details it might have missed on first listens. There are some moments of introspection as well, like the ballad “Crickets” where we hear Hannah's Greenwood vocals taking the lead and delivering a really passionate performance with just acoustic guitars by her side. Definitely a personal favorite as well, alongside “Hiding With Boys”.
Lyrics — 7
According to vocalist Will Gould, this is a concept album that revolves loosely about the disappearance of a paranormal investigator named James Scythe. The music videos for "Hiding with Boys", "Black Rain" and "Misery" also serve as a trilogy which ties in with the story of Scythe. Much of the lyrics are about heartbreak, leaving the youth you once had behind or trying to figure out who you really are, like in the chorus of “Hiding With Boys”:
“Hiding with the boys in your bedroom
Hiding the evidence of dying youth under cigarettes and stale perfume”
The melodramatic side of the songwriting can be easily seen in the chorus of the power ballad “Misery”, that reads:
“If you could see the wreck I am these days,
you’d have new reasons to stay away
Just hold my hand for a little while
Misery never goes out of style”
Some of these lyrics would sound quite stale without a good and emotional vocal performance by Will and Hannah, for sure. But adding to this, the lyrics really fit well in the overall dramatic and bombastic sound the band ventures itself in.
Overall Impression — 9
In a nutshell, the band really deserves the praise they have been receiving. Great chorus, varied songwriting and easy listens are ingredients for a band to succeed in the harsh landscape that the music industry has become. The band is not really innovative by any means, since My Chemical Romance showed us this kind of fusion of Hardcore-punk and Goth music more than a decade ago. However, Creeper really knows how to play with their cards in hand, and it surely delivers a great debut worth of repeated listens. Take 36 minutes of your time and give this record a go. At least I didn't regret it, and if you are into these styles you probably won't either.