The Classic Crime is an amazing rock band. Each member of the band is an artist. A musician. Their live performance is as good as their recorded material.
Anyone who listens to The Classic Crime knows they have more depth, musically and emotionally, than a scene of emo kids squealing along to a seasoned Sunny Day Real Estate anthem.
The Classic Crime – Matt MacDonald (vocals, guitar), Alan Clark (bass), Robert “Cheeze” Negrin (guitar), and Paul “Skip” Erickson (drums, vocals) – released their 5th LP, How To Be Human back in April of this year.
Lyrically, The Classic Crime have always been introspective, questioning, controversial and deep. “Salt In the Snow” from The Silver Cord and “The Precipice” from Phoenix are two songs that convey a longing for something more, questioning life and a search for spirituality; or at the very least some answers.
The lyrics themselves are spiritual, and I am not saying what they are indefinitely, but at a closer look, you can see that the main writer, Matt MacDonald, is on a journey.
On How To Be Human, the thought processes that are explored are done so in a way that exceeds honesty and brings that band to true adulthood. Into a new fold of wordsmithing, more or less comparable to Thrice‘s Dustin Kensrue or long time goth/folk singer Nick Cave.
For fans who know their earlier material, you will probably be surprised to hear and read the lyrics on this new offering; maybe especially on the song “Wonder.”
“Have I fucked up my head
With all the books that I read
Was I too hungry for the truth to find you
Wonder why I’ve lost my wonder
Why the ship is going under
Wonder why I’ve lost all my wonder
Why the night has got my number
Wonder why the wonder died in me”
Those who may not have simultaneously walked the ‘journey of life’ with The Classic Crime since their 2006 debut Albatross came out, will probably be more likely to be damaged by the current choice of words.
However, if you have some dirt under your fingernails – had kids, been in financial trouble, lost someone close, felt depressed, gotten fired, been bullied, etc. – then maybe you will resonate with these words. Maybe. Those of us who are human will probably be able to see what Matt MacDonald is trying to say on this album; which, again, is entitled How To Be Human.
I do not think this album acts as an instruction manual set to music. Rather it is more like a narrative for real life. It may not necessarily give black and white answers, but I think it’s most endearing quality is that most anyone can relate to it! The honesty speaks for itself.
It hits a nerve and causes one to think.
“Yeah…life is full of questions, heartache, confusion, and wonder!” Matt MacDonald and his life-weathered bandmates are simply putting it out there in a way that will capture even the most cynical of critics, because simply… The Classic Crime create some jaw dropping music to go along with the lyrics!
First of all, MacDonald has that voice that can send shivers up your spine, and also tear a hole in your heart. He can croon with the best of them, and scream an endless wallow of darkness and light.
Furthermore, the guitar of Negrin and MacDonald is so rhythmically on point in those melodious pockets, that you almost forget it is there. The drumming of Erickson and bass picking of Clark complete it all, and we have a band that has learned less is more, and we don’t need big shiny pop synths to get on the radio.
How To Be Human is not really a departure from their last offering, but it is more like a steadily maturing opus of what came before.
Their discography is definitely of tight quality. With this new material we are seeing that The Classic Crime will leave us with a catalogue of music that could very well stand the test of time.
From the first track “Holy Water“ we are greeted with that sweet treading guitar that compliments the vocals and the melodies in perfect tandem and sync. The whole album is catchy without being cheesy or too radio friendly.
How To Be Human pushes the boundaries of conventional rock albums, and finds a way into your heart.
Even the lyrics will eventually become mantras and food for thoughts; even if you disagree or think that using a few ‘colorful’ words slates you for the fiery gates! Pffftt…
Take a listen. Never judge an album by it’s pre-release hype, or from one or two misinterpreted lyrics.
Rating: 5/5 – Get a life and check out How To Be Human!