Before DKFM became a known name, we were familiar with Kalamazoo’s Crash City Saints. 2010’s epic LP, Glow In The Dark Music, presented a band in full throttle: sweeping, powerful, but always tuneful. Classic singles “A Life Worth Living” and “Cough Syrup” exemplified a band at the top of their game, and poised to take over the world. Bits of Astrobrite, with a sprinkling of Jesus and Mary Chain, Crash City Saints sparked with electric energy, and a stamp on the sound that was both deafening and undeniable.
So what happened to the lads? Other than a 2011 EP, they seemed to have fallen off the radar, much to the dismay of fans everywhere. So there was much rejoicing at the news that they’d signed to Saint Marie Records for their long-awaited followup, due 11 August. But Are You Free? is described as a far more ambitious project than might have been expected. “Are You Free? was initially conceived as the shoegaze Quadrophenia. I wanted to tell the story of a teenager growing up in a small town in the early 90s set to songs meant to function as various homages to the bands I loved (the bands that “saved my life” as The Smiths once put it) from that period). However, as with every musical endeavor of mine to date, it soon became clear that my ambitions were bigger than my recording budget, and many song ideas had to be scrapped. Ultimately, this was probably for the best.”
From the opening “folky” bars of “Ice Cream Headache”, you may think you’ve landed in some parallel universe. Once the tuneful haze sets in, you’ve found yourself in familiar territory. Part Arcade Fire, part Beatles, but undeniably Crash City Saints, you’ve started on a journey that’s uniquely their own. Filled with a midwestern cool, and a consistent propulsion throughout, this is a joyous return. If you’re late to the party, this is a great time to catch up. Crash City Saints’ Are You Free? LP releases on 11 August (vinyl, CD, digital), but preorders are live now via Saint Marie Records.