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An outgrowth of musicianly friendships and idle time during the pandemic best spent writing and recording music, Night Crickets brings together singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists David J (from Love & Rockets and Bauhaus) and Darwin Meiners (who records solo as Darwin) with drummer Victor DeLorenzo (Violent Femmes) for a sort of alternative rock supergroup. What makes the Crickets special on A Free Society, though, is that, while there are signature noises from each musician, the resulting blend doesn’t really sound like anyone’s past projects. If there’s any resemblance, it’s to J’s recent solo records, but even that’s a dodgy comparison. Instead the participants construct a brooding, twenty-first century psychedelia, soaked in noirish atmosphere, surprisingly open-hearted emotion, and a sly sense of humor. The band keeps the melodic instruments set to float, blurring the lines between keys and guitars, organic and electronic, often letting the bass and drums be the only immediately recognizable sounds. While not dopplegangers, J and Meiners’ voice occupy the same general range, allowing them to switch parts, lines and identities with impunity. Highlights include the thirsty groove of “Little Did I,” which cleverly repurposes the rhythm of War’s “Low Rider,” the sleazy poetry of “The Unreliable Narrator,” the striking atmopop of “Candlestick Park,” and the reflective glam folk of “Return to the Garden of Allah.” The strength of A Free Society is such that one hopes this evolves beyond side project into full time status.
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