ARTIST: DECENT CRIMINAL
LABEL: WIRETAP RECORDS
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
Delivering us eleven tracks and thirty four minutes of jangly, relatable, catchy punk are Decent Criminal, a four piece from Long Beach, California. Initially started by two brothers, Hunter and Tristan Martinez, the band are now on their third full length album after 2014’s self titled ‘Decent Criminal’ and 2017’s ‘Bloom’.
‘Bliss’ is instantly warm and likeable and offers a fantastic intro to those not familiar with the band. Crossing the boundaries of alternative, punk, surf and power-pop, Decent Criminal have a nostalgic and retro style at times, yet bring a fresh spin to something familiar. Opening up with the infectious ‘Nowhere’, every track on the album has a one word title, and nearly every track is ideal for sunny day, bouncy festival appearances after a few beers. ‘Fade’ is a natural contender for a single and is a standout track on the album, with its soaring chorus, effects drenched guitar licks and perfectly timed breaks.
“a nostalgic and retro style at times, yet bring a fresh spin to something familiar.”
‘Bleached’ brings things down a notch, the verse utilising an unusual drum effect, the snare sounding like it’s wrapped in a wet sock (it works). Kicking into a heavier chorus then dropping back out again for the next verse, it’s a track which shows off some of the band’s versatility, the ability to construct songs in a more surprising fashion. Some nice harmonies towards the end too. Three part harmonies are something of a feather in the cap for the band and is something they’re obviously proud of. They pull it off well at various points throughout. Final track ‘Alone’ almost sounds like a rare Beach Boys cut from the Smile era. It’s trippy, intricate and beautiful, and the fade out ending really works for the vibe of the album.
‘Here’ and ‘Loner’ are the shortest tracks on the album, following on from each other and coming in at less than two minutes. They almost feel like interludes, especially ‘Here’, which is mostly instrumental then kicks into some vocals towards the end. It barely has time to get going, which leaves the listener frustrated and wanting more. ‘Loner’ on the other hand, works as a fast paced punky little number, blistering in and out quickly. It’s a fun track, and leads into the grungy sounding ‘Teeth’, which definitely has some Nirvana vibes. The verses are atmospheric, sometimes eerie, the choruses triumphant, with attitude. Not entirely the most original sounding song in the world but it’s catchy.
“With plenty of original, stand out moments, and well constructed, well written songs, Decent Criminal are proving themselves to be serious contenders”
‘Sigh’ takes us in a different surf/garage punk type direction, in terms of subject matter and style, talking about lost loves and driving cars down to the ocean. Great use of minor notes and juxtaposed melodies and some really satisfying chord constructions here as well as an enjoyable solo. It’s one of the stronger tracks on the album with a beautiful final forty seconds.
Decent Criminal have produced more than a ‘decent’ album, one which shows absolutely bags of talent and potential. Into their third album now, they’re a band who are growing from strength to strength as they find their feet in the industry and develop their sound. They still have further to go but if any album will make people sit up and take more notice it’s this one. With plenty of original, stand out moments, and well constructed, well written songs, Decent Criminal are proving themselves to be serious contenders.