In a press release for Crime In Stereo, this comment is made about the band's music: “It’s a punk record, it’s a hardcore record, and it’s an intricately written album … it doesn’t really fit into the “melodic hardcore” or “punk” category.”
Crime In Stereo turned out to be a cerebral musical experience, a beautiful meld of intelligent lyrics and simple yet intricate music - not the kind of music that can be categorized or quantified. The songs are atmospheric, they have vision and ambiance. The contemplative lyrics are soaked in melodies that drift between despair and hope.
Band members have experienced a variety of things in their personal lives. Guitarist and songwriter Alex Dunne has been busy in judicial campaigns and also battling diabetes; the bass player, Mike Musilli, has gained a master’s degree in education and is a high school teacher. Doubtless, their experiences contribute to the sincerity and depth of the songwriting.
On the first track of the record, “XXXX (the first thousand years of solitude)” the band makes the statement: “All your artists are just servants of the status quo.” Crime In Stereo makes sure they do not fall into this category.
The songs the members write are not commercial agents; they don’t have the typical song structure, verse/chorus repeat. More attention is paid to cadence and meaning. Each tune is a story, a social commentary, and very well written.
The commentary seems to center around relationships - the façades in families, breakups, and society's manipulations of individuals. The band's approach, the writers' metaphors, and their expressions make it interesting.
As usual for me the drumming got my attention. Scotty Giffin pounds out some beautiful beats. He provides a pure, crisp pop and snap with just a little rumble now and then. He’s got a deft touch on the cymbals and perfectly timed and placed fills and rolls. The intro to “Small Skeletal” is just beautiful; it’s a simple beat, played with clarity and feeling.
The music, too, is unique. There’s just a hint of light pop in the guitar which segues to catchy, tangy rock; all the while the menace of metal hovers in and out of earshot, like a big thug hiding in the shadows waiting to take care of business if necessary.
If the record has any drawbacks, it’s the languid pace. It’s a cohesive work of art; it’s intelligent, but it does drag ever so slightly in the second half. Each song seems to have just about the same pace.
However, that’s more than made up for in the beauty of the music. Is Dead is a CD that is quite alive and deserves a lot of playing time.