Another impressive release
Adam England
10:25 30th March 2022

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When you’ve not long had a critically-acclaimed debut album and a sold-out tour with IDLES, and you’re looking forward to appearing at SXSW for the first time: it’s Sod’s Law that the world will be thrown into turmoil with a pandemic. But while it might be three years since Crows started writing Beware Believers and two since the start of Covid-19, this is an album that feels like it’s arrived at the right time.

Crows have supported the likes of Wolf Alice, Slaves, IDLES and Gilla Band, and like many of the bands they’ve toured and worked with, Crows certainly don’t shy away from touching on the political. 

The dark noise-rock of opener ‘Closer Still’ takes aim at the Department for Work and Pensions and their treatment of the vulnerable, while ‘Garden of England’ is the band’s self-described ‘Brexit anthem’, vocalist James Cox lamenting the conflict, division and deception that came to define the UK of the late 2010s following the EU referendum.

While not as overtly political, lead single ‘Slowly Separate’ has a brooding post-punk bassline that could have been lifted straight from 1979, and lyrical matter about living and working in London and going through the motions in life, speaking to a particularly contemporary brand of anhedonia. 

‘Healing’ is a slice of almost gothic post-punk that moves from Closer-era Joy Division to raucous hazy indie, and it’s followed by the intense, claustrophobia-inducing ‘Room 156’, where Cox mesmerisingly chants “Broken things let the light in”. Completing a strong three-track combo is ‘Meanwhile’, which combines an anthemic chorus with brooding verses before thundering guitars invite a thrillingly intense final minute of music, probably the crowning point of the record. 

On album closer ‘Sad Lad’, the band eschew their usual brand of fast and fuzzy post-punk but without sacrificing passion and spirit as Cox pays tribute to late outsider music icon Daniel Johnston. His vocals emerge out of the all-encompassing instrumentation like the calm in a storm—something to cling on to. 

With Beware Believers, the idea of secondalbum syndrome shouldn’t even be entertained. This is another impressive release from the London quartet, and soon we’ll surely be talking about them as the headliners rather than as supports for some of the biggest names in UK punk. 

Beware Believers arrives 1 April via Bad Vibrations.

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Photo: Press