A little bit punk, a little bit funk, a little bit weirder than this Dr. Seuss story, and overall pretty good, Doubting Thomas Cruise Control is a hidden gem out of Brooklyn. Playing since 2010, DTCC has already gotten their hands dirty, releasing several albums. Their latest, titled Remember Me John Lyndon Forever, is a strange endeavor but pleasant endeavor to say the least.
Doubting Thomas Cruise Control’s album is a bit of a Good, Bad, and Ugly scenario, where there’s not much bad but a whole lot more ugly (still a lot of good too). When the planets align, the band really comes together and can blow things away. Doubting Thomas Cruise Control strikes an interesting balance between extremely far out experimental and melancholic rock music. The group is by no means afraid to play with unique ideas and try to make songs work in groundbreaking ways. Unfortunately, as mentioned, there is a downside.
Remember Me John Lyndon Forever just tries to be too weird for its own good sometimes. The opening track, as well as the first third of the album has seemingly mismatching melodies and a lack of harmony. It’s more unnerving than likable –you may as well put on two different songs at once. “Chain Supply” is a terrible introduction to the band. The way every instrument interacts creates a complete cacophony. The vocalist, in his delirious tone, fails to add remotely enjoyable texture. Maybe the song would be digestible as a quirky intro if not for how much is going on –the slew of guitars and keys, bassy line and percussive hits just becomes too much. Admittedly, the next track, “Nice Guy,” carries a seriously strong instrumental line –however the band just seems to conflict with itself again. The vocalist doesn’t fit in half as much as he needs to –he becomes an elephant in the room. Meanwhile, one time where it would be great to have an extra layer of texture, it just seems as if the bass and guitars blend together too well and leave out a chance for anything really interesting to happen in the main melody. Luckily this trend begins to die off around the third track. “Lillehammer” is easily a step up and shows a much more coherent and friendly side of Doubting Thomas Cruise Control –but it still feels a little off. The climbs in the songs energy, the developing melody just don’t seem to play out very well. The way the vocalist falls on a low note throughout creates a choppy vibe. That isn’t to say “Lillehammer” nor in general this first slew of tunes have nothing to offer (they’re mostly passable), it’s just that they’re a bit much to digest.
The rest of the album mellows out and becomes far more accessible –and of course far more enjoyable. “Shed” as well as “Laszlo’s 3am” are welcomed breaks from the obscure start. Each song almost borders some sort of early emo vibe, comparable to something you could expect one of the Kinsella brothers to put out. DTCC continues with this shift in style right up until the end of the album. The vocalists shift in mood is absolutely stellar and more than ever the group really shines. The closing track, “Texas T,” seems to fuse the two faces of DTCC; one part weird, two parts mellow. “Texas T” starts minimal and builds in intensity. The repetitious melody makes leaps in power and the vocalist pushes through with more and more frustration. When the song reaches its high point, we get distorted guitars strumming away and eventually a pretty damn intense solo. It’s a perfect way to close and marks “Texas T” as the album’s magnus opus.
Doubting Thomas Cruise Control’s Remember Me John Lyndon is a strange album in that it starts very questionable and can fall on either side of the fence –worth listening to or something you should run from. If you’re into experimental music, then the album shouldn’t even pose an issue to you –otherwise, waiting out the first few tracks can be incredibly rewarding.