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Company Ink (NO) – “Crew”

The always-reliable Norwegian record label Brilliance also houses a singles-only label named Diamond Club; ostensibly, it’s titled as such because it’ll only release singles that are absolute gems. If Norwegian band Company Ink‘s “Crew” is any indication, then Diamond Club is indeed releasing solely utter stunners.

It’s not often that Nordic artists so completely nail down the qualities that have made some of The Cure’s biggest mainstream hits so amazing, but that’s exactly what “Crew” does. The crisp, reverb-and-chorus-heavy guitar arpeggios and driving percussion that introduce the song and outline its chorus are taken straight from the “Boys Don’t Cry” playbook. The verses, which are dominated by a squelching bassline and heavily filtered, beckoned-more-than-sung male vocals, could serve as a less dramatic, enveloping sister to any of many songs on Disintegration. Across the song’s glorious three-and-a-half minutes, many of the vocal tics recall Robert Smith’s forlorn, commanding style.

Of course, blatantly and blandly ripping off one band is never exciting, and “Crew” does much, much more than that. After the first chorus – which repeats twice in a row – an array of heftily strummed acoustic guitar chords blends with a steely but pristine guitar line in a way that’s more reminiscent of 21st-century shoegaze. Comparing Company Ink to any one contemporary shoegaze act is a futile effort; sure, fans of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Yuck, and Smith Westerns will love “Crew,” but the song’s strong pacing, broadly painted soundscapes, and simultaneous dread and excitement are unique to its creator.

Company Ink is surely aware of its special charms as well. On its Facebook page, it describes itself as “bratpop,” which is as charming and intriguing a description as it is misguided. Sure, “Crew” is the sound of young male disenchantment (“I used to want to break the bones/of anyone that proved me wrong”) but there’s nothing stuck-up or rude about its presentation. The only thing bratty about these guys is that they’re not at all hiding how good they are at what they do.

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