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(Credit: Press / Jono White)

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Crows conquer on new album ‘Beware Believers’

Crows - 'Believers Beware'
8.2

“The majority of the themes on the album came from what was going on in the world around in summer 2019, Covid wasn’t in our lives and the biggest impact was Brexit and the madness our government were putting us through. I was reading a lot of J.G. Ballard and Kurt Vonnegut whilst all this craziness was going on around us and it was a weird headspace to get into.” – James Cox

Today we finally have the honour of listening to Crows’ second studio album in its entirety. The London-based four-piece previewed Beware Believers with three precursory singles over the first few months of the year. In January, we were firstly greeted with ‘Slowly Separate’. The lead single sets a precedent for the album with its IDLES-like neo-punk sound. “‘Slowly Separate’ is about living in London, working a job you hate and just going through the mundane routine of hand-to-mouth living,” as Crows frontman James Cox explained.

In February, Crows released the second single from Beware Believers, ‘Room 156’. The song warps through changes in intensity while Cox yelps in gloomy desperation reminiscent of The Horrors frontman Faris Badwan. The track gives a feeling of anxiety; room 156 is clearly not a cheery place. The lyrics, to give a reference, were inspired by Cox’s obsession “with true crime, and this song was kind of born out of researching H.H Holmes and the World Trades Hotel in the 1860s where he would murder people staying at his hotel informally called The Murder Castle.”

As a final taste before the full release of the LP, Crows blessed us with the arrival of probably the most poignant of the previewing singles, ‘Garden of England’. The high paced rock-out brings an unbiassed political message. As opposed to taking sides, the track appears to convey a general disillusionment with the tempestuous political division in the UK and the incessant media coverage. 

As Cox said of ‘Garden of England’ in a press release: “This is straight-up our Brexit anthem. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less which way you voted, your vote, your choice. I just hated how much Brexit had become so ingrained in our day to day life. First thing I’d hear about when I woke up and the last thing I’d read before I went to sleep at night. It became all people spoke about. ‘Garden of England’ is more of a comment about the divisiveness it caused, splitting families, friends, widening the north-south divide and empowering nationalism. Public figures’ ability to lie publicly and not be held accountable, it’s just dangerous dog-whistle politics that doesn’t belong in the UK.”

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So, with the release of the final eight tracks of Beware Believers, does the album live up to the promising standard set by the singles? In short, most definitely. The album kicks off with the violent ‘Closer Still’, a track sure to ignite moshpits among the most reserved audiences on any upcoming tours. The track derives much of its power from the heavily distorted guitar runs that come loud even on a low volume. 

After ‘Garden of England’, ‘Only Time’ follows, maintaining the raw pace as Cox tackles the subject of time and the wonders of hindsight. Following ‘Slowly Separate’ comes one of my highlights from the LP, ‘Moderation’. The track comes a little milder than the aural onslaught of much of the album’s first side. The musical sound reminds me of Pixies while Cox sings in an American accent akin to Interpol’s Paul Banks. The softer post-punk sound of ‘Moderation’ is continued into the brilliant ‘Healing’ before the single ‘Room 156’.

The closing tracks of the record sustain the band’s trademark sound while keeping things fresh, with ‘Wild Eyed and Loathsome’ coming as a final, personal highlight. The group have clearly hit upon a formula that works for them and have found a way to weave enough pattern changes and evocative lyrics into the mix to make the album a pleasurable listen that doesn’t lose novelty by the end, despite the lack of diverse instrumental texture – an exemplary modern punk album.

As uncertain times grow among us, Crows are here to channel the gloom into a classy sound that draws from an eclectic range of contemporary and legendary influences. Watch out, Crows will be in a venue near you over the coming months, and you won’t want to miss it.

Listen to Crows’ new album below.

Crows Tour Dates:

  • April 5th – Bristol, UK – The Exchange
  • April 6th – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
  • April 8th– Manchester, UK – YES
  • April 9th – Birmingham, UK – Muthers Studio
  • April 10th – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
  • April 11th– Glasgow, UK – The Garage
  • April 12th – Sheffield, UK – Sidney & Matilda
  • April 13th– London, UK – Scala
  • April17th– Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
  • April 18th– Brussels, BE – Botanique
  • April 20th – Hamburg, DE – Molotow
  • April 21st – Berlin, DE – Frannz Club