Turn to Crime

Can't Love

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With Awesome Color, Derek Stanton brought freshness to driving garage rock, a style that too often sounds like a copy of a copy. That creativity is virtually the only thing his subsequent project, Turn to Crime, has in common with his musical past. It's also the focal point of Can't Love, an album whose beginning and end reflect its full scope. Emerging from "I"'s organ drones, the title track's black-hearted pop cruises along on a noisy, mechanical beat and jangly guitars; as Stanton scowls "I don't want good times/I don't like sunshine," he makes being miserable sound like a lot of fun as he covers his heartbreak with paint-it-black cool. Meanwhile, "I Can't Not Love" closes the album with a ten-and-a-half minute instrumental where garagey guitars and a Motorik beat fall in and out of sync with each other in hallucinogenic, ecstatic fashion. In between, Can't Love covers even more territory, revealing Stanton as an artist with a wide embrace of pop, garage, and experimental rock that rivals fellow Detroiters Outrageous Cherry. His mix of these sounds is equally trippy and driven, and often surprising: elements that seem chaotic become hypnotic, like the flitting electronic percussion on the meditative "Pine Box," or the tumbling drums on "Sunday's Cool," which add to the song's rickety, sunny charm. Indeed, there's a bouncy playfulness underpinning much of Can't Love that's at fascinating odds with its deadpan cool; "Forgiveness" combines chugging, Velvet Underground-esque guitars and mantra-like repetition with wild tom-toms that signal its growing urgency. Turn to Crime's experimental leanings peak on "Nightmares," a rangy instrumental that plays like a fever dream of Detroit garage rock, with fuzz bass and snarling guitars wandering the streets through a layer of feedback-laden fog. The band does more abstract moments like this just as well as the catchier tracks, but Can't Love's pop songs are so good that it's hard not to want more of them. Regardless, both sides of Turn to Crime's music are a big departure that never feels forced. Scuzzy yet heartfelt, Can't Love is a promising debut that suggests any number of directions for Stanton and company.

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