Creeper — Sex, Death & The Infinite Void (7/31/20)
Talk about sophomore comeback of the year, this album has been one of the biggest surprises of 2020 for me.
This UK band formed through their mutual involvement in hardcore punk and post-hardcore groups in the Southampton area. I caught them in 2017 with their debut album Eternity, In Your Arms and I was decently pleased. I’ve let it fall to the abyss since though and have not found myself going back to anything from it.
It was a somewhat heavy album, classified as goth-punk, or horror punk, and that was the lens I had them under when they returned with “Born Cold” last November.
The song was not what I was expecting as the band took on somewhat of a glam rock sound and steered away from the heavy-handed punk of their debut. I was a little unsure of it at first, but it became clear after a few listens that they had something pretty special.
There’s a very theatrical presence to Creeper’s music, much in part to frontman Will Gould’s performance. He’s an incredible vocalist and he shows off a range of personalities with his slightly varied styles.
He displays a few different styles in “Born Cold,” alone. From the brooding first verse to the dramatic and grandiose hook to the cuttingly playful second verse, his shifting performance adds wonderful flexibility to their sound.
I’d say he’s one of the most captivating frontmen I’ve heard in a while. I find myself not just enjoying the music, but also amused and entertained by the different characteristics he shows in his performance.
The second single “Annabelle” was released in January and it stunned me with its thrilling chorus and dark humour. “Commiserations to your mum and your dad/My reassurances: it’s not that bad,” makes for one of the most sticky sing-a-long lines of the year.
It just went up from there with single number three, “Cyanide.” The song is fantastic. They transition from a walking verse into a soaring chorus within the same line which is something you don’t hear too often. The drop-in they include during the hook also adds tremendous power to one of my favourite lines in, “Modern love can feel like suicide.”
They slipped out “All My Friends” as the fourth single in May. They didn’t originally plan for it to be a single, but with May as Mental Health Awareness Month and with everything happening with the pandemic and whatnot, they decided it was a fitting choice.
Gould wrote the song late one night when he was left alone in the studio with a piano. He says the song almost felt too personal to release. What I take from it is a song about trying to cover up pain with substance and the never-ending cycle that becomes.
I’ve heard my fair share of songs about substance-dependency and depression, and I’d say this goes down as one of the most touching in that category. Gould’s emotionally heavy performance with the piano is wonderfully tragic. The weight of his deep voice as he sings, “All my friends, all my friends, all my friends hurt,” is not only emotionally powerful; it makes for one of my favourite slow-song sing-a-long moments ever.
They perked back up with the next single “Be My End” in June. It’s fiery, catchy, and you get a great ghoulish performance from Gould that is just another part of his various personalities.
So, the five singles we were given before the album’s release were all hits. That leaves us with six more on the album to hear, not including the interludes/intro/outro (I’m not tackling the album’s greater conceptual theme). Of those six, I’ve found two more fantastic songs while the other four don’t do quite as much for me, but even those I can hardly say anything negative about.
“Paradise,” “Thorns of Love,” “Four Years Ago,” and “Napalm Girls” each have memorable traits and I honestly enjoy each of them. They just don’t excite me as much as a lot of the surrounding songs.
“Poisoned Heart” is one of those surrounding songs, squeezed between “Paradise” and “Thorns of Love” on the tracklist. I mentioned Gould showing a ghoulish singing style earlier, and he hones into that again with this one. It’s not a singing style I would think I’d generally be into which is why I’m especially thrilled by this song.
He opens up his voice for the anthemic chorus, delivering an almost familiar melody. It’s one of those songs that’s so infectious that it makes you wonder why you haven’t (or if you have) heard the melody before. A remarkable song from start to finish; one that has me swooning over the verses just as much as the hook.
That leaves us with the penultimate “Black Moon.” What more can I say? Gould gives another theatrical performance with that cool drawl to some of his words and the chorus rips open for another big shouted hook that has him singing, “Let love kill me!”
Creeper has definitely put themselves high on the list for the most exciting rock bands of today with this album. These songs feel so big to me and yet they hardly push past 3:30 in runtime on any of them. And I’m so happy with them for that. Too often, albums are held back by songs that overstay their welcome. Creeper has made a huge rock album that you can get through in less than 40 minutes. It’s nice to see a band make such an epic rock album and not have it pushing close to an hour.