Croupier – We, The System
I couldn’t start this review without saying that this is a pretty good choice for a band name: Croupier. It’s somewhat the connection between luck, chance, thoughts, vice, passion and feelings implied that first brought to my mind this could be better depicted through the band’s music, as transferring one’s life, hopes and dreams to cold paper.
This Wicklow based band presents their vision of ‘Indie’ music by providing asymmetry, sudden changes in rhythm and configuration of songs so unique as the to-and-fro of the ocean, going from soft to brutal through the bridge of one note only.
The We, the System EP includes 6 songs, where the very first (‘It’s not the TV it’s the Remote’) introduces itself with a soft and recurrent guitar riff, then followed by anger and a voice that could say from the most tender to the most brutal words so easily as turning on / off the lights; there’s also a good introduction to what drumming for this band means: accurate, powerful and acrobatic, indeed!
From track one it’s hard to keep the idea of a song under a traditional concept, since it’s divided into 3 completely different structures, and where the unique reference is the chorus.
As we go forward through this experience, the next track comes, ‘Amphitheatre’, which presents an exquisite introduction with a nice dialogue between piano, drums and guitar, like the classiest moment we’ve ever had in the week, but then takes off and accelerates its pace to introduce the voice to the green and sunny landscape we’ve got. As palpitations increase, the song goes to a peak marked through a scream by all band members, and then comes to a valley with a neat choice for a melody.
There’re traits of jazzy sounds in the atmosphere that somewhat get their rage from their most visceral hour, as the mood changes after witnessing wrongful acts, before a broken heart, before the lack of reason. A clear day that becomes grey and brings storms, malaise and confusion, as better explained in ‘Fresh Milk’.
Bass notes bring a new melody to the air, which is sweetly complemented through the flat voice of piano, guitar, ascending, descending, gaining its energy from weakness and comfort, then revisiting the initial condition. This is a wheel of fortune called ‘Decades’. It’s quite clear this music is not easily played as changes in tempo, harmonies and composition demand more than practice, since rage becomes the hardest feeling to find a sound for.
‘100 times’ begins its message with syncopate music and includes the vocal work I loved the most: a sustained word with little vibrato, the ones that can easily touch your chest and make you ask for more. This is a great complement of evens and odds. The melody goes up with tricky iterations of guitar and bass, but restrains itself to wait for the ultimate explosion (that comes exactly in the middle of the song) and finally gives in to despair. The waves return to their peace after the big storm has passed.
The last note is ‘Third Tier’. The velvet voice offered in some bits of the song brings solemn words that deliver style, passion and dreams. This is a good wrap-up song, the ones that brings encapsulated memories floating with eyes closed through their choices of melody.
Croupier brings music juxtapositions made of incredibly beautiful harmonies, and then going to the most haunted and disturbed vocals and screams from all instruments involved. It’s just to show that as beauty exists, so does ugliness, as one exists and coexists through the eyes of the other.