The Classic Crime
What Was Done, Vol. 1: A Decade Revisited



by ProjectFreak USER (27 Reviews)
November 10th, 2014 | 7 replies

Release Date: 10/28/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I dreamt I stood on a hill that I wished was a mountain, and looked back on all my accomplishments.

Acoustic albums are inherently tricky. At best, they are a treat for hardcore fans. At worst, they're a thinly veiled cash grab (and in most cases, they are both). How can an artist write something that's different enough from the original to make it worth a second listen without betraying the original's identity" And, perhaps most difficult of all, how can the artist justify writing a full LP worth of acoustic material without boring everyone within earshot by track six"

I'm happy to say The Classic Crime, for the most part, overcame the obstacles in its way in writing What Was Done. The band's growth from its debut to 2012's Phoenix has been quite drastic, giving Matt MacDonald a good deal to work with. This isn't a straightforward "swap out the guitars and send the drummer home" acoustic job, mercifully. While few songs are drastically overhauled, there's a good deal of tinkering behind the scenes that make old highlights sing and turn forgotten tracks (like "My Name") into winners -- though the insistence on labeling some songs as "Revisited" instead of "Acoustic" seems awfully pretentious.

Oddly, the biggest weakness of What Was Done is the track selection. The debut Albatross is somewhat over-represented (though, again, it's been eight years, it's forgivable), and The Silver Cord, the band's best album by a long shot and yet the one they seem most eager to forget, only appears twice. And those appearances are among the album's low points -- "Salt in the Snow" and "God and Drugs," both highlights on a fantastic album, just don't offer anything new when "Revisited."

But given what's on the plate here, it's all executed quite well. MacDonald's vocals are near-flawless, showcasing his husky lower register and gorgeous falsetto on "Who Needs Air," an already solid song made fantastic by stripping down the sound. In a nice change of pace, TCC does not see fit to slow everything to a crawl for the acoustic album. "Vagabonds" is just as energetic with the guitars unplugged, and the touches of banjo and piano are quite tasteful. "We All Look Elsewhere" even maintains the climactic scream in its final chorus, though "God and Drugs," despite driving drumming and dissonant strings, sounds a bit neutered in its new arrangement.

But, again, MacDonald is the star of the show. "The Fight" undergoes the most drastic renovation here. The zippy opening anthem from the band's debut is reborn as a slow-burner with just vocals, guitar and far more emotional impact -- the moment when MacDonald finally enters his upper register is goosebumps-worthy. And "Headlights," while not too far removed from the original, gives the listener a wonderful reminder of how much his voice has grown since that song's 2006 release. The one true ensemble victory is the bonus track "Where Did You Go," a mournful worship song that builds slowly into a swell of horns, bells and pounding drums.

It's the nature of the acoustic album and b-side collection beast -- there will be songs every fan will want to hear again, and there will be some that no fan likes hearing a second time. But as far as acoustic collections go, it doesn't get that much better than What Was Done. It's a promising sign for the band; after delivering a mostly flat performance in Phoenix, MacDonald's vulnerability and earnestness seems to have returned in full. Keeping an acoustic album lively for nearly an hour is an impressive feat indeed -- Manchester Orchestra, take notes.

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EthanThompson (5)
A breathtaking take on classic The Classic Crime....

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 9th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

I feel like this review is super long. I may edit it later.

Been listening to this quite a bit, and a 4 may be generous, but it's quite good for what it is, and a great deal better the last acoustic compilation album I listened to.

February 28th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

Great review! I really wish The Silver Chord got some more love though. And, while there are some duds, I think it deserves a great. I consider “We All Look Elsewhere” and “Where Did You Go” to be some of the best the band has ever done.

March 4th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man. I agree, Silver Cord needed some more attention (give me an acoustic version of Everything or Closer Than We Think next time, please!). It's a phenomenal album. And Where Did You Go is growing on me tremendously. But I'll still say the best track on here is The Fight.

April 28th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

You know it's a good acoustic album when some of the tracks improve on the originals, and that happens more than once here. The Fight is so bomb.

Good review, too.

May 18th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks mate. The Fight is definitely better this way.

March 4th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Really loving Where Did You Go, but I get lost in The Coldest Heart each time it comes on shuffle. Fantastic reimagining of it.

March 21st 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

hard to remember how much I loved this band after their last album bombed so hard

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