Crone – Gotta Light? Review

One of the nicest surprises I get as a reviewer is unexpected agreement about an album’s high quality. After more than half a decade in these hallowed halls, I think I have a decent intuition to the general consensus any one album will receive. When I write yet another 4.0 for Aeternam, I don’t expect much dissent in the comment section. But some albums seem to speak more to my particular tastes and I tend not to anticipate much interest to be garnered. When I highly rated Crone’s sophomore record Godspeed, I was pleased at the acclaim it received. When word reached me of the follow-up approaching, I was double pleased to find a multitude of my fellow authors remembering its predecessor fondly still. So when I say I did not expect many to be clamoring for Gotta Light?, I realize I might be selling its popularity short. Let’s see whether Crone will touch as many hearts as it has before.

While Gotta Light? has not made a hard swerve, there’s a palpable difference between Crone 4 years ago and Crone now. The Gilmour-esque guitars, a feature I particularly enjoyed, are much less prominent now, and the average tempo and energy is clearly elevated. You wouldn’t think that listening to the slowest and most morose track on the record, opener “No One is Ever Alive,” its peculiar placement throwing off initial expectations. But follow-up “Abyss Road” and later track “They” remind of the higher energy cuts from Sisters of Mercy or Unto Others,1 at least instrumentally, and the semi-ballad melancholy frequently found on Godspeed is much less common now. On the whole, this makes for a slightly less diverse album, and at first glance it seems like Gotta Light? might turn out disappointing.

But with more thorough listening, uncoupled from its predecessor, it becomes clear that Crone can still produce significant depth, both emotional and compositional, with their music. Each track is a study in building towards a climax in different ways. “They” is the hardest hitting track, but drops into a beautiful bridge before the final chorus so the ending hits even harder. Highlight “This is War” has a wistful, even cheesy first half, but the fantastic transition and addictive riff it introduces are foreshadowed with delightful subtlety. Even the less standout tracks, such as “Quicksand” and “Gemini,” evoke a strong emotional response thanks to intelligently layered songwriting and the smart incorporation of extra elements like intricate pianos, female background vocals or swirling Hammond organs. It makes for an album that doesn’t hit as hard right away, but rewards multiple listens and careful study of everything underneath the surface of even the most simplistic tracks.

Founder and frontman Phil Jonas still provides his wavering drawl, a vocal style of great personality and idiosyncrasy if not technical perfection. Much like Patrick Walker (40 Watt Sun and Warning), he possesses a tonality that is melancholic even without context, and moreso in combination with such evocative music. Given that his performance is wont to receive the most focus, though, any stumbles are understandably enlarged, such as the odd and stilted phrasing on “Waiting for Ghosts” or the out-of-place hushed sections on “They.” These missteps are easily forgiven though, especially with the music remaining strong, and the album’s final vocal performance on “Silent Song” is especially affective.

The album closes on an instrumental. “Kenosis” echoes Godspeed’s opener “The Ptilonist” with its guitar section, but spins the same theme into something entirely different, yet no less beautiful. I suppose different but of similar quality is largely the theme for Gotta Light?. While it doesn’t quite reach the soaring heights of its predecessor, it is still a gorgeous, intricate journey. It showcases a band willing to explore beyond the boundaries it has set before, while remaining entirely true to itself. I can’t help but feel like the previous opener and the current closer are bookends of a sort, and I am curious whether Crone is going into a more drastic shift for their next album. Whether that is the case or not, however, I’ll be there either way. Crone has established itself as an act whose every chapter is worth the price of admission.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prophecy Productions
Websites: crone-de.bandcamp.com | cronemusic.net | facebook.com/croneofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 23rd, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Untoothers. – Steel
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