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Creeper ‘American Noir’ review: stunning, dark drama

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Since Creeper’s inception in 2014, it’s fair to say that they’ve been on quite a journey. Starting out as a small, punky band in Southampton, they’ve since gone on to tour America, win a flurry of awards and work their way up to the main stages of festivals. As they’ve been making their way in the industry, their musical releases have gone from strength to strength. Every album and EP has a distinctive sound, with the band demonstrating their continual evolution and ability to turn their hand to a variety of themes and styles. While many bands encounter resistance from fans as they alter their sound, Creeper has almost universally won over their audience with each release, expanding their audience with every new song. This is clearly shown in the charts, too – each album has appeared at a successively higher position, with Eternity, in Your Arms (E,IYA, 2017), debuting at 18, and the subsequent Sex, Death and the Infinite Void (2020) appearing at number five.

The band’s latest EP release, American Noir, continues the narrative of 2020’s Sex, Death and the Infinite Void (SD&IV), an album built around a complex plot involving aliens, mysterious government-like agencies and family feuds. No one can deny Creeper’s tendencies towards the theatrical, with each project they bring out seeming to have more and more complex lore attached to it. These concepts are carried beyond the albums themselves, with worldbuilding for both releases built up through strings of online clues of websites, audio files and mysterious social media posts. The band truly knows how to make an experience of their publicity stunts (“breaking up” on stage being perhaps the most audacious), bringing fans further into the intricate stories they create.

As Creeper’s sound has evolved over their time on the scene, American Noir feels like another step forwards – and when they started on such a high (their early EPs are musically and lyrically strong), it’s impossible to guess when, or if, this upward trajectory will end. The EP takes forward the poetic and musical interludes featured on SD&IV, which serve both to make the collection more cohesive and to conclude the overarching storyline. This cements the release as more of a concept album, bringing attention to the wider narrative.

While each song on the release is commendable in isolation, together they create an emotional, grand and thoroughly enjoyable listening experience

The EP opens with the lyrical and dramatic monologue of ‘Midnight Militia’, before crashing into ‘Midnight’, the first single of the album. This track is evocative of the band’s earlier works, loud and with a powerful chorus. It certainly feels like the sort of song that will have the mosh pit bouncing, with guitarist Ian Miles’ solo midway through being a highlight and providing a headbanging interlude to the duet.

‘America At Night’ immediately shifts tone, a slower and moodier track that nonetheless, in classic Creeper style, builds to an explosive, heavy climax. American Noir makes excellent use of keyboardist Hannah Greenwood’s voice, with her vocals leading two of the five songs and duetting with Will Gould on two more. ‘Ghosts Over Cavalry’ is another, for lack of a more technical word, absolute banger of a track. Greenwood’s sometimes raspy vocals add depth to the boisterous instrumentals, which once again benefit from a riotous guitar solo by Miles. This is followed up by the equally strong “One of Us”, whose repeated refrain “Not like the others/You’re one of us,” emphasises the strong community that Creeper has created around their music. Following the outsider anthems of previous records, “One of Us” highlights the sense of kinship that the band has constructed. The EP concludes with the romantic ‘Damned and Doomed’, a dreamy number which might see a wall of death exchanged for a slow dance. While each song on the release is commendable in isolation, together they create an emotional, grand and thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

Creeper continues to impress, each of their releases solidifying them as key players in the alternative music scene. With initial releases likened to bands like My Chemical Romance and AFI, there’s no doubt that they will soon be the band that new acts are compared to. The band’s ability to vary their sound not just between but within releases is formidable, and is sure to help them appeal to an even wider audience. Seeing Creeper’s evolution does nothing but heighten excitement for where they’ll go next, and with the 2020 album and the new EP not yet having had their promotional tours, their string of “Sex Death Void” shows this winter are set to be gigs to remember.

WE RECOMMEND: ‘Ghosts Over Calvary’

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