REVIEW: CREEPER, THE STRANGER

★★★★★

Somehow, the majority of the British rock scene has transformed into the most boring and homogenised thing around over the past few years. Bands, once interesting, have turned overindulged and dull, with life-long waits for uninspired and cynical radio-baiting albums wrapped up in safe and faux campaigns.

But, while all this has been going on at the surface, the fires of a revolution have been igniting like ticker-tape, not just in the fans but, crucially, in the bands. And, out of nowhere, a huge spiked-glove sucker punch has flown straight into the centre of the static to make a scene interesting, fresh and dangerous again.

Southampton gang Creeper are key players in this mutiny and, with each of their three quickly evolving EPs, have emerged as a gothed-out, desperately-pissed, starry-eyed hope for both this scene and music across the entire board.

The Stranger finds the now-sextet swiftly blossoming within their Tim Burton meets Cameron Crowe aesthetic, embodying a magnetic and charismatic identity. Thing is, they’re much more intelligent than the bands of the first paragraph. Their songs are beautifully barbed, deeply wounded and melodically undeniable – they could be on the radio and be better than most things on it – but they have an edge and uncompromising attitude that’s completely averse to what the mainstream and the radio expects. There’s no conformity here: bands like Creeper are beating that at its own game. The mainstream will come to them, not the other way around.

Misery is a blood-dripping ballad that could see the band dominate the walls of bedrooms and venues across the country, somewhere between My Chemical Romance’s Cancer, Sally’s Song in The Nightmare Before Christmas and something from the lost scripts of John Hughes. Valentine marries a buzzsaw punk tone to a ceiling-spinning chorus based on REM, detailing resigned and crushing lyrics that go to places a lot of this scene hasn’t in a while: “I’ve been low, I hate to tell you but what the hell can I do?”. But the love and passion for songcraft goes further with lyrics and aesthetics here entwining the fear of the crumble of youth, and all its problems, with fantastical fiction as diverse in influence as Guillermo Del Toro, teen escapism flicks like Heathers and the vivid imagination of Studio Ghibli. This bleeds further into the sonics, Black Mass, shit-kicking and chugging the purest punk spit, features a middle-eight that could be from an Elvis, Bowie or Meat Loaf record. Final track Astral Projection also features two shoulder-to-the-wheel choruses that sound like an old-school  deathmatch before dissolving, like the themes it deals in, into something else entirely, wounded and choral. It’s just something altogether bigger.

Bands like Creeper are coming, knives up, from the basements again. It feels vital, dangerous and powerful, covered in sweat and spit and probably more honest than you’re ready for it to be. It’s going to influence how you think and how you feel. None of this is a Top Shop advert anymore.

This is a revolution for something bigger, to make music special again, to make it like it should be.

WORDS: WILL CROSS

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