Review Summary: Crywank’s final record ends the band’s tumultuous career on a fragmented, but wholly entertaining high.
I’ve got a confession to make.
I really love the band Crywank.
Perhaps ‘love’ is too strong a word for my feelings on the band. “I really enjoy the band Crywank,” maybe? “I really appreciate the band Crywank” also seems more appropriate. Yeah, let’s go with ‘appreciate.’
I really appreciate the band Crywank.
Normally, I wouldn’t consider liking a band a sin, but Crywank are the exception apparently. Their brand of bedroom anti-folk has garnered them quite a bit of ire from pretty much everyone. Even from the project’s very beginnings as a solo venture of James Clayton, critics and general listeners alike seemed to write Crywank off as nothing more than angsty singer/songwriter music played purposefully amateurish.
But while I’ve never thought the band had released a truly essential album, or even one worth recommending to anyone outside the internet music bubble, I’ve never had the same distaste for their music. Perhaps there’s a screw loose in my head knocking about, I’m not sure. What I do know is that I’ve found myself enjoying their music consistently for the past 10 years.
All of this to say that the group’s (self-proclaimed) final album has made me appreciate Crywank again. The flashily-titled Fist Me 'Til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth will not please any longtime detractors of Crywank, nor will it win a place on any 2020 album of the year lists. What this 27-track behemoth of a final album will do however, is serve as a fitting end to one of anti-folk’s most underappreciated artists.
Stuffed to the brim with strange auditory experiments and unfinished-sounding snippets, as well as more traditional rock tracks, Fist Me 'Til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth makes it its mission to never stays in one place for very long and to keep listeners on their toes. The “I Love You But I've Chosen Me” suite opens the album innocently enough, taking cues from Midwest emo and folk punk. But after that, all bets are off. The primitive “Flower In Hand” plays with no wave chaos effortlessly. The industrial tracks “Ungrateful Son” and “Boosep” are remarkedly well done; especially the latter, with its booming, rhythmic percussion. Closer “Deep Down I'm Really Mark Smith” is a perfect ending track, harkening back to Crywank’s roots as a more standard singer/songwriter solo project. The playing across the album, while amateurish and messy, manages to be fairly competent (and sometimes exceptional). And considering the sheer amount of the genre-hopping that takes place over the course of Fist Me 'Til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth’s hour-long runtime, that’s commendable.
The only issue with the album, and it’s a major one I’ll admit, is the sheer amount of songs here. While the opening 8-track suite is comprised of substantial tracks, the bulk of the album is made up of those previously-mentioned song fragments. Which both works in the album’s favor (in service to that distinct rollercoaster-off-the-rails feel Fist Me 'Til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth provides), but also to its detriment. There were multiple times when I was getting into a track, only to have it abruptly end and leave me a bit empty.
I could go on and on trying to describe how the album feels, but frankly, the description for the album that’s up on Bandcamp paints a clearer picture than I could ever write:
“It wasn't recorded or approached how we usually would an album, with the focus whilst making it being that it's made more for us than for an audience. As a sort of form of therapy to create some joy out of what is inevitably disintegrating.”
That quote is exactly how the album feels. The conclusion I came to whilst listening to this, their final record together, was that Crywank were never built for anything more than brief online fame/infamy. The album is their beautiful burnout, a band knowing their done and just clipping together one last scrapbook page for themselves before shutting the book for good. And in a world where bands go on living well after their suggested expiration date all the time, I really appreciate the band Crywank for knowing when to close the book. And I really appreciate the band Crywank for going out on a high note like this.