Cemetery Highrise Slum is the third LP from downcast '90s revivalists Creepoid. Since forming in 2010, the Philadelphia indie quartet has honed its textural pastiche of spacy noise rock, grunge, and shoegaze over the course of two EPs and two full-lengths. Fronted by singer/guitarist Sean Miller, who occasionally splits vocal duties with bassist Anna Troxell, Creepoid work in a disconsolate haze of tweaked guitar tones nested over slow-burning rhythms that rarely bust out of low gear. To make Cemetery Highrise Slum, the band headed down to Savannah, Georgia to work with producer Peter Mavrogeorgis (Grinderman, the Vanity Set) at his Dollhouse Studios. Sonically, the album's ambience falls somewhere between Georgia's slow-roasting humidity and their own city's underground grime. While much of what Creepoid does practically defines doldrums, they are not without their hooks. With his laconic Billy Corgan-esque snarl, Miller delivers appealingly disenchanted alt-rock with pop aspirations that are often hidden under arrangements that give the impression of being looser than they really are. Tracks like "American Smile" and "Dried Out," with their tone of slacker mockery, are abundant in the kind of nasty riffs and melodies that would have launched a thousand ships back in 1991. On the other side of the coin are their downtempo shoegaze tracks like "Fingernails" and "Shaking," which hit all the genre touchpoints (hazy atmosphere, heavily effected guitar tones, buried vocals, etc.), but feel a bit too textbook and lacking in definition. As a whole, Creepoid seem very indebted to a certain era (early-'90s alt-rock and its subgenres) and, like any band working in so specific a sound, they need to work twice as hard to infuse their own identity into the songs. Cemetery Highrise Slum is a worthy effort with a highly crafted vibe, but Creepoid's personality only shines through some of the time.
Cemetery Highrise Slum Review
by Timothy Monger