My introduction to Rob Crow was through one of his side projects, Thingy. I was sitting in my living room listening to the Songs About Angels, Evil, and Running Around on Fire album (incidentally – highly recommended) when a friend walked in the room and asked if I was listening to one of the Rob Crow bands.
Really? I thought. That guy from Gladiator is in a band? A bleak moment it may have been had my listening pleasure been interrupted by an unstoppable onslaught of flashbacks of A Beautiful Mind, hack acting blocking any enjoyment I may have derived from the album. Fortunately, though, I realized my error before the moment could be irrevocably etched within my memory and I was able to banish any further thought of that other Crow, misspelled to boot, from my mind.
If you’d like to dispel any notion that Russell Crowe may still be hiding behind a microphone, please, click here.
Above, when I said that my friend asked if I was listening to one of the Rob Crow bands, my assumption was that he must be in a couple of bands similar to how, for instance, Paul McCartney may release an album with a band called the Beatles and then later on release a solo album, or how, to take a more contemporary example, Papa M may be Aerial M and occasionally just Pajo. This was my first assumption, and not an entirely unfair one I thought. But this would be horribly inaccurate, similar to the way that calling Marmite chocolaty delicious would be inaccurate. According to a fan site, Mr. Crow has no less than 18 bands onto which he can dump his creative output (likely the most recognized of which would be Pinback), releasing albums whose combined numbers well exceed 50.
But to return to the sound at hand – Crow seems to have the very noteworthy ability to make each song on each album sound fresh and decidedly worth listening to despite recording an album on average about ever 48 seconds. His songs combine seemingly simple pop elements with intricate hooks to create melodies that tickle the aural cavities in ways more sophisticated than most pop songs are given credit for.
Though I haven’t had the pleasure of listening through the entirety, or even a significant portion, of Crow’s discography, Living Well seems to contain the earmarks of his other acts without relying too heavily on any sort of formula for song production. For instance, “Taste”, the third track on Living Well has a lilt and beat distinctly reminiscent of Pinback without strangling itself within the confines of some bossa nova prison. The album progresses through turns both soothing and raucous – the first track, “Bam Bam,” is one of those songs where if I’m listening to the album on repeat and the disc scrolls back to the beginning, regardless of how long I listen to the track the first three notes will echo in an endless refrain in my mind.
This shouldn’t be considered a damning comment, however. Crow’s songs seem to catalyze each other, the entire album becomes more solid in your mind the more you listen to it. Like when you try to hum the theme song from Superman and time after time constantly end up humming something from Star Wars, Living Well provides a rich tapestry of sound that’s deceptive complexity, instead of detracting from the experience, serves to create a highly approachable album even if you can’t remember how it went the following day. You’ll just have to listen to it again.