In a summer that has seen few strong local indie releases, Detroit four-piece I, Crime is juicing up the musical milieu. For its first big release, Spread Like Water/Block the Sun, the band spent roughly two years holed up with Grammy-nominated engineer Collin Dupuis, tinkering with a sound that's equal parts garage rock 'n' roll and indie kitsch. Not an easy thing to mix well, but lead singers Jennie Knaggs and Anderson Walworth do it with aplomb, adding bursts of Detroit grit to the album's 11 songs.
Upon first listen, themes of vice, indulgence and living as far from grace as possible rise: In "Fight," Knaggs repeats, "I'm not God's girl" and later, "I'm so far from regrets" — and you've no reason to think she's fakin' it. "Lazy Susan" tells of a chick losing control, while others, such as "Priest," which has a slight pop-punk feel, and "Fascination," show angsty undercurrents. Elsewhere, "Dove Skin Gloves" lifts on the male-female vocal dynamic — and could be the money song, if not for "Coke," the catchiest here.
The album captures the energy of a post-adolescent, jaded America, that exact place where life's fucked-upness can either push you to relative greatness or pull you down into the shadows.
The band sounds best when the music is revved, and, though the songwriting is stronger on slower runs, such as "Walk Like Stalin" and "High Stakes Game," something gets lost in translation, as if the combo just wants to rock. Overall, Spread Like Water/Block the Sun is as absolutely worthy as anything dropping now, and since I, Crime pressed it vinyl (locally!) in addition to CDs and MP3s, you've got multiple formats on which to celebrate your jaded selves.
Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.