Sometimes I surprise myself and pick up something out of a dollar bin that just screams indie rock. You can't think any differently about this band. Pink sky? Fluffy, upside down clouds? This is all coded to say "I am indie and approachable, so heart me." (shudder) The contents are also quite apparent if one takes a look at the record label, which is absolutely known for its indie output with bands like Minus the Bear, Modest Mouse, and Pedro the Lion. Granted, they also have Russian Circles and the Unicorns, so I suppose one could expect something a bit more crushing if one gets an nervous feeling that the cutesy art cover is just a smokescreen. Turns out Crystal Skulls aren't into trickery, though.
Made up of four guys who have done this kind of thing before, Crystal Skulls deliver a pleasantly light, yet well-crafted inoffensive sound. Christian Wargo's lackadaisical singing style is consistent throughout the record and never tries to reach a level it shouldn't. I suppose that feature of his vocals could be considered too safe or unimpressive, yet I have heard many modern singers try too hard to hit certain notes or affect their voices so much to make one twinge in discomfort. Wargo has a tempered delivery and the band follows suit with a steady but not necessarily predictable musicianship. They do sound a little like the sometimes quirky songs by Minus the Bear, but unlike that band Crystal Skulls never stray into the terribly interesting or lapse into the utterly dull with the music. Like I said, these guys define the inoffensive sound.
And you know, some people just like that. I found that "Hussy" was very listenable to and resembled a more sedated Strokes kind of fare. The intro riffs of "Count Your Gold" sound as if they carry a warning, and despite the lowering of Wargo's voice, the song still carries a positive feeling by the end of it. The band really doesn't want to upset you, though perhaps there is weight in the lyrics somewhere. One would really have to delve into that factor, though, to walk away from all of this with a poor attitude.