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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cranks - Downside Up

The Cranks - Downside Up
2011, The Cranks

The Cranks dish out their distinctive blend of prep-school, post-punk pop on their second CD, Downside Up. Released in May of this year, Downside Up once again highlights the distinctive voice of Haley Gowland. Backed by her twin brother Connor Gowland in drums and Greg Preston on bass, Gowland turns listeners every which way loose on Downside Up. The Cranks show growth from their debut EP, What? both as performers and in the songwriting department. Gowland's lyrics are fresh and relevant, but are losing some of that youthful feel as The Cranks traverse adolescence and enter the complicated waters of young adulthood.

Opening with "Voice Inside", The Cranks offer up a catchy number with punk energy and real pop sensibility. Haley Gowland is thoroughly engaging on "Mexico", and the rest of the Cranks raise their game in an angular style that highlights the topsy-turvy sound that pervades here. "Under Radar" is a well-written musical allegory for not being seen socially. The song is catchy as anything, and could be a breakout song for the band. "Under Radar" is the sort of song a smart music director might pick for the soundtrack of a teen comedy full of angst. "Good Guys" shows a bit of the younger feel of The Cranks' earlier work, but is well-written nonetheless; a solid album track.

"Super Secret" seems a likely allegory, perhaps for something personal, but also seems applicable to a world where so many things happen around us that we never see. Either way, the song shows a real insight into the intricacies of a world where everything is negotiated and little is ever set in stone. The highlight of Downside Up is a rough little jewel entitled "Scatterbox". Punk energy and sound meet pure pop gold in a bit of musical magic that speaks very well for the future of The Cranks. "Here I Go" keeps much of that energy and verve going in another song with real pop potential. The Cranks closes things up with the pure joy of "Pirate". If you've ever heard a song that just screamed that the band was having fun recording, then this is it.

The Cranks continue to build their sound and style, and on Downside Up have become a cohesive and mature trio, rattling off catchy and intelligent punk-influenced pop songs like afterthoughts. While the Cranks are a cohesive whole, their shining light is Haley Gowland, who is maturing into a convincing front-woman before your very ears. The Cranks have a real future. Downside Up is the proof.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Cranks at on Facebook.  Downside Up is available for download from and iTunes. 

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