There’s no denying the appeal of Crown The Empire; whatever it is getting the kids excited nowadays, these five guys from Texas have it in spades. They are already big, boasting over a million followers on Facebook, and on the strength of ‘Retrograde’, the all important third LP, there’s nothing to stop them becoming massive.
Right from the word go, on the sinister lullaby soft intro of ‘SK-68’ there is a kind of sci-fi feel to this record. It’s in the song titles and the snatches of movie dialogue preceding the swirling riffs of ‘Are You Coming With Me?’ and in the mid-section of the killer ‘Hologram’. Talk about a winning tune! It starts sedately, but the percussion soon builds to a massive hook with the tried and tested rhetorical question trick – “Do you know who I am?” It has a real driving pop feel, but the dual vocal attack of Andy Leo and David Escamilla adds some muscle – throw in an epically powerful finale and it doesn’t get much better than this.
My personal preference is for their harder-edged material like the badass heavy slow boiler of ‘Lucky Us’ and the attacking ‘Zero’ with its industrial feel and hectic arrangement. However, their appeal probably lies in the more radio friendly tracks like the easy pop rock of ‘Signs of Life’ and the well worn marching melody of ‘Weight of the World’. Even so, they always manage to offset their pop sensibilities with some hardcore vocals or industrial textures to keep it powerful.
To be frank, there’s not a bad track on ‘Retrograde’ and there’s plenty of variety to keep it interesting, whether it’s the sinister instrumental of ‘The Fear is Real’ or the dark ballad ‘Oxygen’. It all makes for a well-balanced album with stacks of winning tunes, everything is superbly executed and they have enough experience to not overdo anything; nicely done.
‘Retrograde’ by Crown The Empire is out now on Rise Records.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)