Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Army Navy Crushes An EP Like A Car

Army Navy
Crushed isn't a throwaway title of a new EP put out by Los Angeles-based indie pop trio Army Navy. It means something to frontman Justin Kennedy. Tucked inside the title track, Crushed Like The Car, he captures all his personal feelings of  uncertainty experienced after a recent, almost deadly, car crash.

The car crash also serves as the principal inspiration for the EP's stark artwork. The cover is both subtle and direct. It's the husk of an automobile flipped upside down on the highway and unmoving, despite its once glorious past. Like the music, it's a surreal surrender.

Army Navy crushes an EP in advance of an upcoming full length. 

The track, Crushed Like The Car, is also the cornerstone of the little-seen video directed by Cameron Dutra. It's in the video that the band and production team do a brilliant job grounding the track to everyday experiences that make us feel out of body and slowed down. Nothing will ever be the same.

The lines "Am I just too tired for it? Will I be inspired by it?" will sound like an echo for anyone who has ever felt trapped, waiting for a sign or suggestion of what to do next. But there are plenty more meanings to pick out of it.

The track also captures an increasing maturity that is easily recognizable. It has been almost ten years since Kennedy split from Pinwheel (a band that included future Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard). But Kennedy isn't the only one progressing in the band.

Louie Schulz (guitar) and Douglas Randall (drums) prove even more confident on the album, playing with a relaxed assurance even when the pace is frenzied like the climactic end of Crushed Like The Car. Their presence makes a difference. Neither of the two remixes compare to the original, even if the second by Acid Invaders is the better of the two.

The inclusion of the remixes also makes the EP a 4-track outing as opposed to the 6-track EP as some people called it. I might go further and call it a 3-track EP. Although plenty of people will like Pickle, it falls in this odd and uncomfortable place where it is neither bright nor dark. It just exists.

Maybe that is the point, continuing with the theme of being stuck. There are some great moments inside the song, but they are really too few and far between. The acoustic version plays stronger in this case, as Kennedy pines away.

Much more substantial are the tracks on the bottom half of the EP before the remixes. Summer Morning and Running Wild both deserve some showcasing. If the latter track sounds familiar, it's because the song is also listed on the soundtrack of The Way Way Back. (The soundtrack, by the way, is solid.)

Either way, both tracks are underrated, lyrically and musically. Along with the driver Crushed Like The Car, fans will find themselves playing all three over and over, even if the complete EP isn't necessary. Still, the whole thing does its job. These tracks are meant to be a stopover as the band puts the next album to bed and prepares for a tour in November, with the West Coast getting first crack at a listen.

Crushed Like The Car By Army Navy Hurls 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Frankly, I would have given the EP a higher score if the band had kept things tight. Given that Pickle has been out for months as a single, it might have made more sense to lead with the brilliant title track and add the equally interesting Summer Morning and Running Wild to the B-side.

They didn't, which makes the rating a bit higher than it should be for a half-great and half-unnecessary outing. On the flip side, of course, Crushed Like The Car will easily go down as a band classic. On its own, it would easily be grazing nines along with Summer Morning. (Running Wild not as much, but only because it's going for a good time bliss better left to the movie.)

You can cherry pick the EP on places like iTunes. You can also find the Crushed Like the Car EP by Army Navy on Amazon. If you don't know, The Fever Zone is their own label. The EP was produced by long-time friend Adam Lasus. Check for tour updates on Facebook.
blog comments powered by Disqus