You build up a lot of goodwill being in The Strokes. We think. Having never been in the Strokes we can’t say for sure, but how else do you account for Julian Casablancas getting away with the Voidz? Something has gone on there, is all we’re saying. As far as Strokes’ side-projects go though, Nick Valensi is doing okay with CRX.
Their second album ‘Peek’ wears its 80s influences on its sleeve, and deals with themes of isolation and obsession in such a way that it’s at least smooth if not fresh. Maybe it isn’t going to set the world alight lyrically, but this is Nick Valensi we’re talking about - by which we mean the guitars are good and the music is sleek.
‘Peek’’s two main themes both come to bear on tracks like ‘Falling’, which sees the narrator stuck in a toxic cycle to avoid being alone, and on lead single ‘We’re All Alone’ which puts modern technology in the firing line above a surprising disco beat and bass. There are left-field moments, like the somewhat confused ‘Wet Paint’ and the oddly Southern vocal on ‘Golden Age’, but then there are high points like the hypnotic ‘Get Close’ with its psychedelic vocal.
‘Peek’ is a mixed bag, is what we’re saying. The strongest moment is ‘Love Me Again’, the dark, glistening album closer which asks pretty much what it says on the tin. By general standards, CRX are strong. They aren’t the scary new talent, and they have yet to become the elder statesmen, but they can occupy a respectable territory and Valensi is still one of the best indie guitarists in the business. We mean, good god - that man can write a riff.