Review Summary: beautiful friends hugging each other in music videos
I first see God when I’m staring out a church window: stormclouds sweeping over the green rolling hills of Virginia. The way that the lightning branches through the dark blue, the massive dark sky shifting east as if some celestial hand is sliding an animated watercolor background across the horizon…it’s the sort of larger-than-life moment that bursts the seams our brains sew around the world. You can see a thousand rainstorms and still come across one that seems ‘different’ – like when you come across your first love and that idea of a soul-rending, life-changing pull toward another person invades the heart and proves its own existence.
Crest’s spiritual mantras and twinkling electronica instrumentals may be too cutesy to stand in for something as massive as God, but it’s clearly the work of artists trying to create their own source of religious transcendence. Ecco2k and Bladee’s lyrics are charged with spiritual ecstasy while Whitearmor, who continues to take cues from Sadboy associate Gud, pares away reverb to let his signature twinkling synths shine over shifting drum machines. Despite this progression in mood and audio fidelity, it’s still easy trace a line to Crest from the group’s early work, especially tracks like “Deletee (Intro)” which might as well be a synthesizer-backed choral hymn.
It’s true that there’s no longer a tonal contrast between the Drain Gang vocalists’ lyrics and their instrumentals. The thrilling, and resonant pairing of depressive lyrics and sparkling synths of the collective’s early work is gone for now, and it’s no surprise that music forums are speckled with comments wishing that these artists would spiral back into sadness. I’ll admit there are times when I hear recent music from Ecco2k and Bladee and feel like they’re living in a different world than I am. When I first heard “Eversince” while wandering Atlanta in a lonely, depression-greyed haze, I felt like Bladee had distilled the simultaneous beauty and pain of my environment into a sonic form. I can’t help but feel like “Crest” is the soundtrack for a world and worldview I might no longer believe in.
I know one day I’ll look back through a window – probably a car window or an apartment window rather than a church one – and find myself filled with that blaze of awe that rationalizes my personal existence on this planet. It will feel like these synthesizers sound, and it will spell itself out in words that find their own melody. It’s lovely to witness the joyful world of Crest even if I don’t live there. For now, it’s enough to know that it exists.