On their vivid new album, San Diego noise-pop band Crocodiles are in full bloom. It's their first LP as a quintet, and the added personnel reflect their ever-widening sonic approach. Their melody, texture and size underwent refinement during the past few years, and now they've emerged with their most finely tailored sound yet.
Crocodiles' fuzzy swoon-gaze schema is still essentially the same. But they've traded in some of their neo-psychedelic Bunnymen quirk and goth-lite gloom (which was really only ever for style anyway) for full-on pop romance. The surprisingly bright songwriting now shines like a diamond, and it's a countenance that fits them like a glove because the melodies aren't just taller, they're also more penetrating.
The front-loaded Endless Flowers is an immediate liftoff with the staggeringly gorgeous opening title track. It doesn't so much drive as it does flat-out launch into the sunset, and it's possibly the grandest song they've penned to date. Other soaring picks include heady, fizzy rockers like "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)," "Welcome Trouble," "Bubblegum Trash" and "Electric Death Song." And though much more clarified and sedate, "No Black Clouds for Dee Dee" isn't just a sweetly direct ode to singer-guitarist Brandon Welchez's wife (principal of Dum Dum Girls), it's also a swaying standout.
Endless Flowers gives up some of Crocodiles' mystique-lending murk but it's the most verdant bottling of their studied, easy cool so far. The songs still have plenty of lovely grain, but they're punchier, more panoramic and just plain huge. It's a collection that's as clearheaded and precise a take on noise-pop as that of the Raveonettes. Although Crocodiles have often been criticized (not without merit) for being too openly slavish to their black-leather references like the Jesus & Mary Chain, you can't argue with a good melody, man. These are their best yet.
8 p.m. Wednesday, July 18
The Social, 407-246-1419
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