First there were The Ackleys, formed by twin sisters Allison and Katie while still in secondary school, after which came P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana. Following their disbanding, Allison Crutchfield moved to New York from Alabama and formed Swearin’ with now ex-partner Kyle Gilbride. At some point, there was also Dear Marje, in which Allison played drums. And of course, there is twin sister Katie Crutchfield’s project Waxahatchee, where Allison provided tasteful additional vocals on ‘Cerulean Salt’ and ‘Ivy Tripp’, and has been a frequent touring member.
Much of Crutchfield‘s previous musical efforts have been heavily rooted within the realms of charming, whimsical (lo-fi) indie rock and pop punk. Here, however, under a musical outfit bearing her very own name, Allison pulls together an ambitious, sonically dense-but-ethereal, and altogether more abstract pop-ish record. This has stylistically more in common with the set of seven songs released as ‘Lean In To It’ in August 2014 than anything associated with her prior, just with the development and refining of her style.
“When the light we once saw in each other flickers and fades, when the two of us become one in a completely different way, where the fear of waking light and the thoughts of you and I… our love is unquestionable, our love is here to die.”
This is how the album begins, in mournful vapour-thin a capella segueing into a one-note-at-a-time synth riff. The vocals begin again, and dream pop/shoegaze shimmering effects pan in concurrently. It’s a downtempo song with plenty of room to breathe, and the mixing and mastering sound absolutely faultless. More typical Crutchfield-esque rock instrumentation kicks in halfway through the song, with the bass-focused drumming adding dynamic up to the song’s climax.
The album’s predecessor and single follow suit, picking up where the synth riff left off, now playing a new simple set of notes, sliding up and down strings, from one to the other.
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All ten songs on this 32:28 album fall on a wide musical spectrum, nothing being too similar. Many songs on this album near or push the four-minute mark, but then punky, upbeat ‘The Marriage’ clocks in at 0:55. The vast majority of it references the album’s opening lyrics, reminiscing, amending, coming to terms with the situation. This album tells a story, an important story of a pivotal moment in Allison’s life, a time following the dissolution of Swearin’, and her relationship, cataloguing exchanges and happenings while on tour for ‘Ivy Tripp’ whilst reflecting on past events.
“Wake me up when you kiss me in my sleep. We live in secret, you’re present at my feet, then you bite me on my neck like I was something you could eat. You bite me ’cause you like the way I feel in your teeth.”
Crutchfield certainly has an intriguing story to tell, doing so descriptively and poetically with candour and seeming utter genuineness. The music that forms the backdrop to this story is quirky, varied and piques interest. It’s certainly worth a listen.
‘Tourist in This Town’ is out now via Merge Records.