Southern Ontarian alternative rockers Crossley Hunter specialize in the kind of middle-of-the-road rock that populates FM radio on weekend afternoons, yet never rises above the pack. Don’t get me wrong: the band has a pretty good sense of melody, and have a couple of radio-ready tracks on the record (minus the big production that is usually associated with the style), but there is nothing here that you can’t find a better version of somewhere else.
Lead singer Justin Hammond has a fine voice, but he uses an aggresive, stylized delivery at times that doesn’t always suit the music well. When he goes into his hyper-agressive mode (that’s what I’m calling it), he sounds like he wants to be in a metalcore band and not the alt-rock outfit he’s actually playing in. The band’s style is somewhere in between post-grunge rockers like Shinedown and Chevelle, but they don’t have the big, glossy production that the major labels can buy, so they don’t sound ready to take the throne of rock radio just yet. Hammond is pretty much the whole attraction here, as the rest of the band do absolutely nothing to distinguish themselves save for some generic piano playing and occasional harmonies. The mixing also doesn’t favour much but the lead vocals, so it’s a good thing they are a strong point.
That being said, singles like ‘’Heaven Sent (I Am Not)’’ do hint at some great potential. The song is very much in the style of a Shinedown or a Theory of a Deadman-type rock ballad. It’s enjoyable, but kind of forgettable. The same can be said of “Down and Out,” a similar melodic ballad. Lyrically there isn’t much going on; familiar themes of love and melancholy are used extensively, so it is a good thing that the vocal melodies are strong enough to make up for it.
Melody is a major theme throughout, with little catchy parts – lots of “Oh oh”s and other such flourishes – within otherwise unremarkable songs. It’s a common trick to mask some songwriting weaknesses. It is too bad because a track like ‘’Stomp Clap Drink’’ sounds like a missed opportunity, as it starts out with a fun, upbeat feel, but then never goes anywhere.
That is really what sums the band up: lots of good pieces, but nothing great. They sound like they are aiming to be a rock radio-type band that can compete in the mainstream, yet are missing one or two truly well crafted singles.
In a nutshell, Crossley Hunter have a lot going for them, but this album isn’t the type of record that makes me excited or wanting to play some tracks on repeat; it’s just passable. You would do better to listen to some of the more established acts I mentioned earlier, and you will find a much better example of what this band is trying to do. I give them credit for putting together a couple of decent tracks, but the whole album is just much too safe and generic to recommend.
Written by Benjamin Massicotte
*edited by Kate Erickson