Crime & The City Solution
, March 26th, 2013 08:57
Ye gods – has it really been 23 years since Crime & The City Solution last released an album in the shape of Paradise Discotheque? It's strange to pause and think about the cultural and political events in the intervening years. It's even more depressing to surmise that, despite the inexorable and ubiquitous rise of information technology, as a collection of races, cultures and societies, the world is in a far worse state than it was when the band's Simon Bonney tackled the appalling legacy of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu back in 1990.
Much like running into an old friend and continuing the conversation you left off several decades ago, Crime & The City Solution pick things up pretty much where they left them, as once again they cast a wry eye over a world that isn't so much spinning as screwing itself into a deep hole. Now relocated to the ruined environs of Detroit, a city emblematic of the economic ravages that are bringing the western world to its knees, Crime & The City Solution's sixth studio album is as much an elegy to the American Dream that's turned into a global nightmare as it is a damn fine rock & roll album.
The band's Berlin-era mainstays of vocalist Simon Bonney, violinist/vocalist Bronwyn Adams and guitarist Alexander Hacke are here augmented by the considerable musical talents of The Dirty Three's Jim White on drums, Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith on keyboards and 16 Horsepower's David Eugene Edwards supplying guitar, while Witches' Troy Gregory holds down the bottom end on bass. Also joining the band for the ride is visual artist Danielle de Picciotto, and the end result is one of the best albums in the band's canon, as well as an excellent entry point for the novice or casual observer.
Sun-baked and windswept, American Twilight is an album that draws on a mythical and actual vision of America as much as it does on the band's origins of their hometown of Melbourne, Australia. As evidenced by opener 'Goddess', this is music that embraces and utilises space, its canvas drawn in huge and righteously angry brush strokes. Survival is a constant theme throughout the album, and no more so than on the explosive title track. "Everybody wants to be number one," sneers Bonney as he surveys the economic ruin that is the 21st century and the insurmountable odds that make up everyday life. "Whole lot of birds in the sky above," he continues, "Looks like hawks and you're the dove."
But there is more on offer here than an outpouring of justified anger and outrage. Crime & The City Solution know the value of pace, of light and shade, and of creating an ongoing sense of drama. Witness the double whammy of 'Domina' and 'The Colonel (Doesn't Call Anymore)' – the former building up from humble beginnings to a widescreen howl of defiance, while the latter is stark and stripped, again utilising space to create tension and almost unbearable drama.
The anger contained here isn't just a rage pointed at these troubled and desperate times, but also at the years of missed opportunity that characterise the time period elapsed since Crime & The City Solution's last release. American Twilight shames the countless number of solipsistic bands too scared to confront the outside world and articulate the pain and anger suffered by millions on a daily basis, but crucially it doesn't date itself. This is an anguished howl that directs its anger at a world seemingly prepared to repeat history over and over, with an increasing degree of pain. And if that is indeed the case, then let's hope that this is the start of another fruitful chapter for this most idiosyncratic of bands.