Crocodile, the sophomore release by British combo Young Rebel Set, offers up an amiable selection of warm, world-weary indie rock that draws as much from Springsteen-esque Americana as it does from classic Brit-pop. Hailing from the small North East town of Stockford-on-Tees, Young Rebel Set slowly built their reputation on solid, folk-inflected songcraft, releasing a string of singles and EPs that eventually led to a deal with Ignition Records (home to Oasis, Primal Scream, etc.) and the release of their 2011 debut LP, Curse Our Love. A couple of years later and presumably wiser, they set up camp in London to work on their follow-up, but the sessions were largely unproductive and unfocused as the band got swept up in the temptations of the city's wild nightlife. Realizing they needed to right the ship, they enlisted Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, Arab Strap) to produce and headed north to his Chem19 Studios in Glasgow, where Crocodile was reevaluated and ultimately reenergized. Themes of desperation, love, forgiveness, and other matters of the soul populate the 11 songs here, which are ably delivered by rusty-voiced frontman Matthew Chipchase. Standout cuts like "Tuned Transmission" and "Show Your Feathers & Run" display the band's knack for a warm melody and a strong chorus, while throughout the album, some of Savage's nifty production embellishments help to transform tracks that otherwise seem stuck at the gate. But Young Rebel Set wear their influences pretty clearly, and it's hard to pinpoint who they really are. Bits of Springsteen, Mumford & Sons, Elbow, Oasis, and the Coral add up to a whole that seems like it should be a bit more inspiring or distinctive. Still, there are some really nice tracks on Crocodile and the band has definitely continued to develop and mature since its debut.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger