The Crayon Set – ‘Lost Languages’
Dublin based 6 piece band, The Crayon Set, will release their new album, ‘Lost Languages’, on October 10.
The band comprises Robert Baker on vocals, guitars, keys and percussion; George Guilfoyle on double and electric bass, vocals, guitars and keys; Kate Dineen on vocals, guitar and shaker; Sean Finn on pianos, keys, noise, vocals and clarinet; Ben White on lead guitars, vocals, percussion and drums, and Phil Casey on drums, percussion and vibes.
The Crayon Set are known for their dynamic live show, which includes tight vocal harmonies, instrument swapping, and at times, giant inflatable crayons. They have performed at many of the leading Irish festivals, including Indiependence, Camden Crawl, Sea Sessions, Vantastival, and Hard Working Class Heroes.
Speaking about the album, they said,
“Looking back now the songs deal seem to deal with a number of interlocking themes: growing up in Ireland, trying to make sense of modern life and relationships, dealing with changes and failures, love and loss, identity, communication and expression.
The album was also partly our attempt – an Irish Indie Pop band – at making an ‘Americana’ album. To this end we asked our producer Gavin Glass to help make us sound like “Tom Petty on LSD”. We embraced the sound of lots of the ‘Americana’ artists we’ve loved – The Band, Tom Petty, The Jayhawks, Springsteen, Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, R.E.M. – to see where this might lead. We were always open to taking some detours and to having some fun along the way.”
‘Lost Languages’ is the follow up to The Crayon Set’s debut self-titled album, released in 2013.
The album opens with ‘Are You Ready’, a mid-tempo track with a sort of Afro vibe. It sets the pace nicely for ‘Down About It’, slightly more upbeat song, which introduces the vocals of Kate Dineen. There’s a very “California” feel about it, reminiscent of fellow Irish (and much lamented) band, The Thrills. The interplay between the male and female vocals is very appealing, and the instrumentation is caught somewhere pleasingly between psych and Americana.
Track 3, ‘Yesterday Man’, starts out soft and sweet, with a narrative look at a man whose life is seeminly at an all-time low, who’s “looking for home” and “no longer belongs”. The subject matter reminds us of ‘Nowhere Man’ by The Beatles. Again, the male and female vocals are very appealing; there’s a distinct Irish feel to the track, suggesting the use of traditional instruments.
‘Attack’ is in distinct contrast to track 3, upbeat and punchy, and seemingly at odds with the rest of the album, but it’s considerably older than the rest of the tracks, having been released as a single back in 2014. Nonetheless, it still has its place on the album, and is a nice counterpoint to the very ethereal and shoegaze-y ‘Closed Lines’. Halfway through the album, ‘Aeroplane’ reminds us of Belle & Sebastian, which isn’t surprising, as The Crayon Set have often been compared to the Scottish band. It’s almost like a slower version of Belle & Sebastian’s recent single, ‘We Were Beautiful’, while holding its own with close harmonies and skillful instrumentals the perfect showcase for the band’s talent.
‘Regional Tennis’ is fun and frivolous, making the age-old connection between tennis and love. Track 8, ‘I Can’t Say No’, features Kate Dineen’s vocals on lead, is easily the best track on the album, and would be perfect as a single release. Again we’re reminded of Belle & Sebastian, and transported in our mind’s eye to the beautiful beaches around Dublin. It has a summer song feel about it, but nonetheless is still perfect listening at any time.
‘Hand-Surfing’ is guitar led and indie-pop, touching on Americana. The instrumental break about halfway through makes a strong feature of the keys, including what sounds like an organ. It’s a laid-back track with the drawling male vocals reminding us a lot of Lou Reed.
If you’re familiar with Dublin, close your eyes when you listen to penultimate track ‘O’Connell Street’, and see the faces of strangers you meet on the famous thoroughfare. It’s possible to hear the hub-bub of the traffic and passers by as we listen to the stories of individuals going about their day to day lives on O’Connell Street.
Final track, ‘More Love’ is possibly the most Americana/Country song on the album, with the husky male lead vocals, backed by Kate Dineen’s slightly angular sound – as well as the plinky plonk piano adding to this. We’re reminded of Neil Young, and find ourselves both nodding our head and tapping our feet in time.
‘Lost Languages’ is out October 10 and is available to pre-order from The Crayon Set’s Bandcamp site as either a digital download or a limited edition CD.
The Crayon Set will be launching their album on 21 October at Dublin’s Bello Bar. See here for further details.