(2016) New Skin

Crx

... read moreConsidering that Nick Valensi was the last member of the Strokes to pursue a side project, it wouldn't have been surprising if he had stuck to collaborations with artists like Devendra Banhart, Regina Spektor, and Sia. With CRX, however, he takes his turn as a frontman, surrounding himself with...

30′:27″ 10 Songs

1
Crx
Ways To Fake It
2:59
2
Crx
Broken Bones
3:31
3
Crx
Give It Up
3:51
4
Crx
Anything
3:26
5
Crx
Walls
2:38
6
Crx
Slow Down
4:05
7
Crx
On Edge
1:53
8
Crx
Unnatural
2:26
9
Crx
One Track Mind
2:50
10
Crx
Monkey Machine
2:48
Released 28 October 2016, ℗ 2016 Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment

Review

Considering that Nick Valensi was the last member of the Strokes to pursue a side project, it wouldn't have been surprising if he had stuck to collaborations with artists like Devendra Banhart, Regina Spektor, and Sia. With CRX, however, he takes his turn as a frontman, surrounding himself with members of Guards, the Dose, and the Reflections. On New Skin, the band borrows the shiniest and crunchiest parts of power pop and metal from the '70s and '80s -- styles the Strokes flirted with on albums like Angles and songs such as "Juicebox," but CRX trades that band's New York cool for California chill with the help of producer Josh Homme. Working with the Queens of the Stone Age leader was an inspired choice, since he knows how to make music that's equally heavy and catchy. Sometimes, however, the album sounds more like Homme's side project than Valensi's; the grinding riffs and massed harmonies on "Broken Bones" and "Give It Up" bear an uncanny resemblance to QOTSA. Throughout New Skin, the production and arrangements elevate the material, but on songs like "Unnatural" and "On Edge," it feels like CRX is piling on ear-catching sounds to disguise the slight songwriting. The band fares best on the poppiest songs, which sound like they should be played on a radio format that doesn't exist anymore. "Anything" sounds like the Cars on an extra-snotty day, while the glistening new wave chug of "Ways to Fake It" and "One Track Mind" feels like the work of a band that influenced the Strokes instead of one of its members. Moments like these are fun for listeners who share CRX's retro fixations, but more often than not, New Skin doesn't deliver on the band's pedigree. ~ Heather Phares