Release Date: January 2, 2010
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska
Hailing from Detroit, one might have expected something with some more grit from Crackjaw’s earlier albums. While some of their earlier tracks sounded a bit like generic rock, the band seems to be trying to push things in a heavier direction. However, for as much as they might be aiming to do this, Lean Cuts is still indecisive as to what genre to fall into. There are some tracks that have a heaviness not present in the past, but there are others that just are hovering between genres, neither one nor the other and, as a result, aren’t much to talk about. There are a few songs with a lot of screaming and the like (and a rather juvenile and somewhat bizarre long, drawn-out belch right before the last track), but there’s a lot of melody in the mix as well. The main problem is, Crackjaw doesn’t seem to know what sort of band they want to be and so the album seems disjointed and uncommitted.
Tracks like “Keep Your Heels On” stay on the heavier side of things with a lot of screaming and some pounding guitar and drumlines. However, there are a few moments where things slip a bit and veer more towards the land of pop. “Nightmare on Greed Street” is one that tries to straddle that delicate line and, sadly, ends up sounding dated and lacking the edginess that “Keep Your Heels On” has. “Hit Her High” has a somewhat similar problem and makes it clear that Crackjaw hasn’t quite figured out what realm they want to be in. Is it the land of sugary-pop and dance hooks or is it the dark land of metal and rock?
“Haberdashery Business” brings back some of that intensity, but there are just too many tracks that are trying to incorporate pop and dance and, since they then fall into a no-man’s land of music, are less than interesting. Whether they like it or not, their music is more appealing on the tracks that have some grit and, frankly, dance music does not have grit. “Piano Black” isn’t one of the better tracks despite falling into the lighter area. There is a good sort of instrumental pause in the song and it is more appealing than some of the other tracks.
Crackjaw definitely shows glimpses of potential on Lean Cuts, but their inconsistency is a problem. Depending on what their ultimate goal is, the band may need to take some time and really decide what sort of sound they’re going after and commit to that approach. The wishy-washiness just isn’t working for them.