EP Collection Volumes 1 & 2
Having been around for over eight years, Cranes have amassed a significant and impressive list of releases. While their album work has been well-spaced, the band has always appreciated the finer art of the EP, releasing several such records over the span of their career.
This two-disc collection also seems to take tracks from their album work. The result is almost a linear history of the band’s evolving sound. Disc 1 shows a band with a clearly defined personality. With songs ranging mostly between 1989-1991, the sound is classic Cranes, dark and arabesque, with Alison Shaw’s heavenly lost-girl vocals floating and weaving throughout. Stunning, if a bit homogeneous.
The second disc highlights a more adventurous facet of Cranes. It’s hard to discern what happened, but the band is now more comfortable working in the studio, and the stark, almost mechanized sound of earlier efforts is now carefully produced and more striated. This disc also draws more from Cranes’ album side, all the way up to this year’s Population Four.
Cranes have been called “the poor man’s Cocteau Twins,” a comparison which does neither band justice. True, some elements are shared, but the resemblance is so superficial that Cranes might as well be “the poor man’s Ministry” or “the poor man’s Type O Negative.” As a retrospective on a band that has remained constant but fresh, EP Collection is stellar. Purists might be offended by the fact that EP Collection in fact represents not only both EP and LP tracks, but also fails to contain the complete EPs. Nonetheless, in this age when bands are eager to adopt whatever sound is popular in order to stretch their moment in the sun a bit longer, Cranes can be commended for piloting their own ship – and sticking to the shadows.