As the summer draws to a close, I was on the hunt for some new mellow tunes to chill out to. I didn’t have far to look. Waterford’s Crome Yellow have released an album that has been practically glued to my turntable since it arrived from the label.
No Friends or Mirrors is their second album and is a step forward in ambition and scope for the band. Crome Yellow brew a heady blend of psychedelia with a pinch of funk, a sprinkle of 60’s mod vibes and knowing drizzle of 90’s baggy. Thirsty yet? Me too. Let’s drop the needle and see what this is all about.
We ease into the album with the smooth ‘2.0’. Setting the tone for the album the song grooves along with a gentle sway. Drawing influence from both 70’s funk and the new soul of the early eighties. It’s a glorious sound of sundown on a summer’s day.
‘Constant Delay’ maintains that chilled out pace. Even opening on the line “I’m already ready to take it really slow”. What sets the song apart is the cascading guitar lines at the end of each verse. They are absolutely mesmerising.
After the spaced-out sound experiment that is “Instant Replay” we move into my album highlight.
“Pocket Protector” caught my ear immediately with its shifting off beat chorus and silky guitar lead. There’s nice vocal interplay playing the lead vocal off of a falsetto. This for me is this album distilled down into one track.
Next up is the 90’s Madchester inspired “Don’t Really Want To Know Ya”. It sounds like John Squire joined forces with Tim Burgess and Clint Boon. This is the band really having fun, that comes through in buckets. You can’t help but smile and nod along to the infectious groove.
The breathy ballad ‘October’ follows all full of sombre reflection. This song clocks in at just over 6 minutes but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The commitment in the vocal delivery is very engaging and holds your interest throughout.
‘Oh How It Feels To Be Down” gives us a false start before kicking into a psych-soaked funky jam. Make no mistake, this band have chops. I can imagine this song would be amazing to see live.
After another short interlude in the company of the distant and shimmering ‘Friends’ we are back on familiar ground with ‘Nobody Told Me’. There’s something of the Hendrix in the guitar licks on show here. Not too flamboyant but enough to compliment the solid backline. I love how the guitar seems to fight its way through the gaps in the vocal.
From this point on the album switches things up. Gone is the funky, baggy groove replaced by something deeper and more complex.
‘The Ballad of John Who Can’t Open His Eyes’ is nothing short of genius. Channelling the Ready Steady Go Carnaby Street 60’s mod vibe and honing it for 21st Century ears. It’s a fun trip and you will love it.
Our final sound experiment of the album ‘Mirrors’ follows. I really loved it. Perhaps they will develop that idea into a fully-fledged song one day.
The Pink Floydesque ‘No.9‘ follows. To say this is a triumph of song writing would be understating things somewhat. There are moments here where I feel I’m listening to some lost Beatles track from Sgt Peppers. It’s story telling with razor sharp observational lyrics.
Closing the album out is the summery ‘Daffodils’. Apt for a band called Crome Yellow. A cool as a cucumber guitar riff dances along accompanied by a squelchy keyboard motif. This creates another new texture and ambience on this album. It’s the perfect closer as it leaves you hungry, wanting more.
I think it’s fair to say Crome Yellow have recorded an album that will be appearing in a lot of end of year polls. Its fun, funky, chilled and a deeply satisfying listen. I highly recommend consuming at sunset with a cool beverage or your choosing. Cheers Crome Yellow. Here’s to your health.
No Friends or Mirrors is out now on the brilliant Fuzzed Up and Astromoon Records. Make sure you go check out their other releases. They are a very discerning label. You can grab a copy of the album over at the groups Bandcamp. There are some lovely yellow themed vinyl variants on offer.