‘Patterns in the Static’ album review
album: Patterns in the Static
artist: The Classic Crime
genre: rock & roll
release date: February 28, 2020
star rating: three out of five
review by Levi Yager
Drawing from their full spectrum of sonic textures, The Classic Crime have recently released a compelling, layered and emotional collection of new songs. Patterns in the Static sees the band get back to some of their rockier roots while also exploring dynamics with multiple types of instrumentation. The stylistic direction alone makes the album worth checking out, even if some tracks are rather middling.
But, hey, we start out strong. “Miles and Miles” peels out of the driveway and leaves you in the dust of reeling guitars and a roaring chorus. This is what I was talking about when I said they’re buckled in to their rockier sound again. You can almost smell the burning rubber.
Then we hit cruising speed, and eyes gravitate to the rearview. “Highlights” is next, and it drifts hard into memory lane. Frontman Matt MacDonald sings, “We’ll get older and realize the little things we did to kill some time became the greatest highlights.” It’s an ode to time flying by and taking everything in. The musical aspects on this track are killer; you get blaring electronics that sound like synthetic horns in the chorus, and this is juxtaposed with a more timid, organic sound in the verses. It’s a hell of a song that effectively encapsulates longing for the good times. Nostalgia is, in fact, a recurring theme in Patterns in the Static. A couple tracks later, “Take the Moment” and “Summer of ’92” really drive it home. The latter, in particular, goes full-speed ahead into the sentimental; “Summer of ’92” is an anthem for the sidewalk kids, and it’ll bring memories flooding back in full color.
Most of the harder-rock songs arrive later in the album. These include cuts such as “The Outside,” “Destroy Create” and “Cold Loud Dark.” On one hand, I appreciate the fervor and prowess on display in these tracks, but on the other hand, they somehow turn out kind of bland. It’s like all the pieces are there – just not all in the right places. Don’t get me wrong; there’s some cool stuff going on in these songs, and the guitars, especially, have their shining moments. However, these tracks generally stick to a straightforward approach that doesn’t do much for me this time around. That said, I actually like “The Outside” quite a bit, even though I don’t think it’s super unique.
“Before I Woke Up” is the final ride on Patterns in the Static. Incorporating keys and strings to assist in its building nature, the song paints a picture of being pulled apart by opposing spiritual destinies. The captivating lyricism is probably the best part of “Before I Woke Up.” The Classic Crime have always excelled at writing creative and thought-provoking lyrics, and this is remains true for “Before I Woke Up” and the rest of Patterns in the Static as well.
At the end of the day, this album is sequenced well and expertly crafted, but it doesn’t quite hold up like some of the band’s other releases. Sections that come off as generic, like certain choruses, simply hold it back from firing on all cylinders. On a positive note, a specific quality I enjoy is the electronic focus woven throughout the record. It’s great not only because it’s a new sound for The Classic Crime, but also because it fits perfectly with the title of the album. The penultimate song, “The Water’s Edge” is a prime example, as it ends with a warm, analog hum before transitioning to the stark, opening piano of “Before I Woke Up.” It’s just one of the many instances that reinforce the “static” theme, so to speak. If you’re already a fan of The Classic Crime, I’d say Patterns in the Static should scratch that itch for new tunes, but many listeners may find themselves cherry-picking favorites instead of taking the whole album for a spin.