Like the muddled memories of bygone summers, Crocodiles’s debut album is a hazy collection of familiar rhythms and half-remembered sounds, fuzzy shoegaze atmospherics, distorted vocals, and thwacking drum machine patterns. Taken out of context and used as tonal set dressing for a near-EP-length effort (nine songs, 33 minutes), these sounds are relentlessly familiar but often hard to place, sucked from dozens of primarily ‘80s bands, semi-namesakes Echo & the Bunnymen among them. An early example is “I Wanna Kill,” which is practically a cover of Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Head On” and seems to put the album on track as a shameless shoegaze rip. But this is only one of several vintage outfits the band tries on. Crystalline ‘80s pop, shivery synth buildups, and raunchy guitar stomps all make appearances as parts of Summer of Hate‘s patched structure. The moody march of “Flash of Light” has the distinct feel of the Cramps, sans the creepy vocals. Thankfully the band is mostly proficient at working with these reconstituted materials, shaping songs that are functional, even when they sound like indirect copies. “Soft Skull (In My Room)” has the requisite bite and verve for a big summer track, continuing the band’s bored vocal style and bizarre fixation on church-referencing lyrics. At times they recall labelmates Wavves, short of their devotion to fuzzy landscapes—another sonic comparison for an album that recalls the messy disorder of a tipped-over jukebox.
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