[Album Review] Crescendo – ‘Unless’

Los Angeles shoegaze/dreampop trio, Crescendo – comprised of Gregory Cole, Olive Kimoto and Jess Krichelle – first captured my attention with their 2014 debut buzz single, “Gatsby,” which ultimately landed the band recognition for their full-length, Lost Thoughts. Today the band has unleashed their beast of a sophomore record, Unless, which had me hooked immediately with the album’s opening intro so to say this entire album took me on a wild journey is an understatement. Exuberating a stronger, more confident version of Crescendo with themes of romanticism and space, all I can say is get ready, world!

First track and lead single, “Repulsor,” gives us a glimpse of what to expect throughout Unless, though let me just state that I wasn’t fully prepared. While all of Lost Thoughts featured Cole’s lead vocals, Unless shakes things up with the lovely vocal stylings of Kimoto – much needed and highly appreciated. The best part, however, is how – in true Crescendo fashion – lyrics are drenched in reverb – which a lot of people may say is the devil, but I personally think it adds a sense of mystery to a track as you have to put in some effort to uncover it all.

“Last” had me going back multiple times as I couldn’t stop marveling at how their sound has progressed over the past two years. As Cole repeats, “Just shake it off,” you can’t help but want to shut everything negative out and listen to his voice all day.

Album high note for me is “Haunted,” as I was brought back into the storm of someone I loved from afar. Equally poignant as it is brooding, these words are art imitating life. “I just won’t let it die / please linger for a while / flash me that familiar smile.” Perhaps the line that got me the most was the simply stated, “I loved you as strange as it seems” – a comforting reminder that we can’t help who we fall in love with nor can we help that they never fall in love with us. Reminiscent of Halsey’s track of the same concept, “Haunting,” I’m kind of getting the drift that we’re all falling for heartbreakers out here.

Instrumental track, “Space Cadet,” can bring anyone back to life while another album high note, “Pressure,” featuring Frankie Soto of Surf Club has a strong potential to skyrocket this trio to where they belong. Play this one on repeat immediately! “Transformer” comes barreling in with some intense high-energy that I still can’t shake while “Yet” just might be my new personal anthem. As Cole evocatively sings, “Who’s gonna save me / who’s gonna save me yet / I’ll save me yet / Luck hasn’t striked me yet, I’ll make luck yet,” you ultimately just want to save him yourself. While building on the notion of creating your own luck in life, there’s still that looming question of who would ever want to save you from yourself no matter how well you may be doing. Luck can be defined in many ways but at the end of the day, you’re truly winning if you have someone by your side to share it all with.

I fell madly in love with “Softly” the first time I heard it earlier last week, and it’s even better the third time around. Clocking in under less than three minutes, I’m not-so-secretly hoping there’s a longer version floating out there somewhere. As, “You’ll be the death of me / Everything feels so temporary / Softly, fade into me,” repeats in my head, I’m faced with remnants of every unrequited love I’ve ever experienced. Perfect for a Pretty In Pink high school dance vibe, I can’t think of a better track to close out an album.

Unless is available now here.

Catch Crescendo at SXSW! Info here.

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina is the founding editor of The Daily Listening. She's also a professional music nerd for BUZZNET. You'll most likely find her where she finds most of her inspiration: introverting in her bedroom with her music collection and a pair of headphones.