There is no denying that the news has been pretty horrid lately. I’ve found myself retreating to Critters and Sweet Crude videos on YouTube as an escape from the negativity that threatens to drown me. My social media feeds are peppered with Sweet Crude posts. It surprised me that I’ve been falling back on this band that I didn’t even know existed a month ago. When I saw Sweet Crude at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I thought they were good. Since then, my appreciation has only grown.
Critters is something of a tease for a full-length album, Créatures, that’s slated for later this year. The EP features four songs showcasing Sweet Crude’s idiosyncratic Cajun indie rock sound. The seven-piece band features two drummers, two keyboardists, two vocalists (who also play percussion instruments) and a bass player. No guitars. Their sound couldn’t be further from traditional Cajun bands like Beausoleil or the Savoy Family Band, yet the joyfulness you associate with Cajun tunes is here is spades.
Lead off track, “Isle Dans La Mer”, kicks off with a plucked violin lead from main vocalist Sam Craft and heavy percussion before leading into the first of several sing along choruses. Alexis Marceaux’s vocals play counter point to Craft and soar on the Na, Na, Na chorus.
Marceaux takes the lead on “Mon Esprit” with her angelic voice soaring over keyboard washes and clicking rhythms of wood on wood. I’d tell you what the lyrics are about if I spoke French, but I don’t. It doesn’t really matter though. I don’t need to understand the words to be transported by them.
If I were still doing a radio show, “Laissez les Lazy” is the song I’d be playing to death. The English lyric appeals to my sense of absurd, Craft opens with the classic lines, “Daydream fever, think I’m getting heavy, Heavy like confetti.” Marceaux takes over the chorus cajoling us, “here’s your chance, the door is wide open, the chance for staring over.” It’s just such an uplifting song; I can’t help but play it over and over.
Critters closes with a song that dares you not to smile. “La Cheminee” is a goofy love song with a so catchy it could be irritating doot doot doot vocal hook. The French verses lead to an English chorus of “What I need is what you’ve got, unless you’ve got it bad, (in which case I’ve got enough for both of us).”
In case there is an ambiguity left in this review, I really like this band. They are playing scattered dates around the US and Canada this summer. Take a chance if they’re in your area and go see them or just listen to Critters on your headphones and try not to smile.