The catch, when it comes to working within any pop music-based form (and, as inconvenient as it is to say, punk rock definitely falls into that category), is that language plays a key role in the music’s accessibility. Simply said, if a band’s not speaking the mother tongue of the country they’re playing to, they’ve already alienated an impressive portion of their potential audience. Such is precisely the first problem that Crim is staring down with their sophomore album, Blau sang, Vermell cel.
The band scored big with their debut album on the Spanish market (that’s ‘Spanish’ as in Spain – not Mexico) which got the attention of North American label Pirates’ Press, but the sophomore album sees the band continuing to produce songs in their native language, rather than buckling to mainstream pressure to change. That, as previously stated, guarantees a narrower audience right off but, happily, the spirit of the music supersedes the speech, and even those who check out this album and don’t speak the language may still be won by the style.
As soon as “Benvingut enemic” pierces through with a bit of earsplitting feedback to open the A-side of Blau sang, Vermell cel, listeners will find themselves held both stunned and amazed as the band begins just ploughing through a relentless melodic hardcore progression. Obvious comparisons between this music and that of bands like Street Dogs and Rise Against quickly spring to mind. Crim blasts both hard and fast as well as hummably – even if the lyrics are a mystery for those looking in on the band who do not speak the language, the song is still fantastically memorable.
The same is easily said of songs like “Una cançó i una promesa” and “Doncs brindem,” which stand as the best (but not only) examples found here. In those cases, the gang vocals complement singer Adrià Bertran’s ragged rasp perfectly and prove to be the “sweet” which counterbalances the “sour” in the music, and that combination makes this music easy to swallow regardless of whether or not listeners know what’s going on lyrically or what banner the band is standing behind.
Crim’s course cuts forward undiverted after listeners have flipped the record over and sunk a stylus into the album’s B-side too. Particular standouts include “Guionistes d’aquest món,” “Maneres de viure” (which lifts and changes the key of the riff in the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant”) and “Melodies per menors d’edat” (which feels like a phenomenal street punk song too – so good, in fact, that it makes this critic want to learn the language it’s performed in, in order to sing along). Again, listeners may find themselves humming along even if they don’t know the words as the album moves along.
Regardless of a listener’s knowledge of the subject matter that the songs are addressing, in fact, listeners will find themselves hooked hard and deep enough by the music alone that they’ll be ready to run through the album again in its entirety as soon as Blau sang, Vermell cel‘s title track plays through and closes the side.
Now, after having read through this review, there’s little doubt that there are some cynics/critics who will scoff and say that my appreciation for Blau sang, Vermell cel is put on. “What rubbish,” they’ll cry. “How can any album that you can’t understand possibly sound so good?” That’s a valid question reader, to which I don’t really have an answer. Crim’s Blau sang, Vermell cel marks the first occasion upon which I ever had so much fun being so utterly confused – but the music is that good. I love it; I didn’t understand a single word of the lyric sheets for the songs, but it spoke to me.