Sunday, 24 November 2013

Crywank - Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid


Self-loathing has never been more important in acoustic singer-songwriter music. Without The Beatles (and more so Daniel Johnston if anything...) we probably wouldn’t be reviewing Crywank today. That's such a cliché, but it bares some ground. Where The Beatles sang about love, when everything was 100%, the world was beautiful and no matter what we'll always be remembered; Daniel Johnston did the opposite. Instead of saying, yeah, we're okay, this is alright - he said no, the world is shit, I’m feeling shit, and this is my shitty way of expressing my shitness. Crywank, or as his family and friends know him James Clayton, summed up his whole persona and musical output on 2012's Narcissist On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. It was the second track "Now I'm Sad (BooHoo)" which outlined this self-loathing, pitiful lyricism, with a tie to sadcore and all the lowly emotions - but at the same time, acknowledging his listeners expectations, and what they want. It sounds mean to say, but the Crywank audience from 2010, 2012, and the present want him to be sad. They need Crywank to be on the verge of tears while he writes songs so they can feel the emotions in his pen. The audience doesn't ask for a phony singing uplifting songs, because that's not Crywank - they want simple, basic, sad music - and that’s exactly what Crywank delivers on his third album Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid.

He cuts straight to the core with his third album. Granted Clayton, isn't going through a break-up, but he's going through a period of questioning. The opening lyrics set the tone for the album: "Everyone I love is going to die, and I, will die as well." They're delivered after the first sounds of Crywank in a studio setting. It has to be said, the production quality of Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid alters the perception of Crywank and their music as a duo. There's something about the first two albums that just clicked together for being recorded raw in a bedroom. This change of sound really puts pressure on the ear. Where Narcissist On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown was smooth and deep, Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid is sharp and shallow. The guitar resonates, but it's not as complete as the past recordings. There's nothing wrong with Dan Watson's percussion, as it brings together some of Clayton's newer recordings. "Song For a Guilty Sadist" is fulfilled by the percussion, but the overall production doesn't click together as a finished entity. It's almost like the raw demos of the past have become the real deal, and these tracks of today have become studio sessions waiting for a finishing touch - "If I Were You I'd Be Throwing Up" is an example of this. Then there's "Notches", which Crywank debuted earlier in the year. To be quite honest, the initial release should be the version on Crywank's third album. This newer, minimalistic, and slower sound doesn't have the same effect as the pulsating percussion and resonating acoustic guitar of the "Notches" released in January. That being said, it's still one heck of a song, and one of Clayton's best lyrically as well as instrumentally: "I want to feel more than just sorry for myself." 

My quarrels with production quality aside, Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid actually possesses Clayton's strongest song-writing yet. There's far more imagery on this album, where in the past Clayton would speak more literal. "Crywank Are Posers" is a nod to Clayton's audience and critics: "I can try harder, I can better, I can do more but I know I won't. And I know apathy, and I know acceptance and a lack of motivation is what they want." It's surpassed by an absolutely stunning line almost unheard through the momentous delivery - "This life spent basking in the blue light," referring to the stay inside lifestyle, such as my own. The following track "Obsessive Muso With No Friends" shares this theme, and Clayton speaks the words on the tip of everyone's tongue with it. 

The up to date version of "GB Eating GB Whilst Listening To GB" is much better. There's far better instrumentation and it's been arranged well for this altered style of lyricism. The reverberation effect on Clayton's vocal really goes a long way with the percussion, especially when it kicks in. Crywank's jab at Team GB can't go unnoticed as well, and serves as a symbolic title for obsessiveness. However, the same development cannot be said about "Only Everyone Can Judge Me". Although the demo was far too distorted on the ear, this re-working has slowed down the recording, making it somewhat unhinged, with its production being considerably different to the debuted track from the January tour demos. Other re-recorded tracks include the double header "Waste" and "I am A Familiar Creak In Your Floorboards". Both have a much more accessible sound, with the former being the shortest, but the most significant track on Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid. The latter has a defining ring to it with the use of the words: "Substitute," "Self-gratification," and, "Moronic," - the words and sounds of an artist finally coming together on his third effort: "I climax with a sigh."

"Do You Have PPE For Self-Esteem" has the most bizarre opening: "Hand and Knees, scrubbing dirt off the men’s room floor. The automatic urinal flush comes on and I get sprayed in the face. New thoughtful ways to degrade." - tell me you're not imagining Clayton wearing a maid’s apron in a communal bathroom, that’s the striking imagery Clayton provides throughout this album. The instrumental side of this track isn't the strongest, but it doesn’t need to be. One of the better instrumental tracks is "This Song Title Was Too Long (So Now It's Shorter)". It features the same sparkling and high string vibrations of "Notches", but with more of an arpeggio presence. Clayton speaks slowly here, focussing on the rhyming last word in his writing: "better," "beggar," "think," and, "limp." The same fingerpicking style and high notes can be heard on "Deep Down I'm American Werewolf", referencing a track on his second album - "Deep Down I'm Really Kirk Van Houten". Lyrically, it's not Clayton's best, but it's still deserving of a place on Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid. 

There's a level of professionalism here. Knowing bedroom recordings aren't the way to develop as a recording artist, Clayton and Watson entered the studio fully aware of what they wanted to achieve. Watson's percussion has added a layer to the Crywank sound, which has allowed Clayton space and time to separate his lyrics from the music. There's less of a focus on delivering the anger built up inside, compared to James is Going to Die Soon. "Leech Boy" is a relaxed penultimate track, with all the apathetical emotions which fans of Crywank's past have come to accept and love. These longer tracks have a certain second structure, as heard with the change up chorus: "As I get older, I also worsen. I used to be, a better person." It splits up the variety of fast paced anti-folk tracks, without appearing dull - such as the closer "I Am Shit". With this, Clayton suggests a literal self-loathing hypothesis to his own life and music. He's potentially calling out us as listeners: "Language is scary, and over analysed." Overall, it's a much needed furious track that closes Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid with both intelligent and childish themes. Crywank's third album lowers the listener’s level of happiness. It takes the depressing aspects of the previous two albums, and completely goes for that third strike. Clayton's self-loathing attitude is still there, with his lyricism taking a huge leap forward in terms of flow, ambiguity, and intellect. Instrumentally, Tomorrow Is Nearly Yesterday And Everyday Is Stupid sits on the fence. On one side, there’s this fresh perspective of sound, with Watson's percussion accompaniment and Clayton's naturally developing guitar skills. But then there’s the production quality, which isn't anything to write home about; and the re-recordings of "Only Everyone Can Judge Me" and "Notches", which are a step in the wrong direction. Crywank is still a developing project, and the team of Clayton / Watson can continue to record, and improve as the months pass. Perhaps they can develop the demo of "Privately Owned Spiral Galaxy" in to UK top 40 single, or cover a few songs. The future has opened up for Crywank, especially with their arrival to a studio setting. They can achieve something far greater and unitary than all three albums with time.
~Eddie Gibson

7.8

5 comments: