At the risk of sounding cheeky, all you really need to know about Creux Lies is that bassist Kyle Vorst plays a Roland G-77 bass guitar synth. Forget about the keytar; the G-77, which looks like it came straight from the set of Tron, is the most ’80s-looking thing you’ll see all week. Thus, it really should come as no surprise when I say that Vorst and his bandmates play post-punk/darkwave that’s replete with chiming guitars, ice-cold synths, machine gun-like programming, and haunting vocals — all of which sound like they were transposed directly from early ’80s.
It should also come as no surprise that I really dig it.
Just assume that Creux Lies’ Goodbye Divine contains bits and bobs reminiscent of a litany of other artists: The Cure, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Christian Death, and so on. Of course, at this point, it’s impossible for anyone in this particular genre to not sound like at least one of those artists, but this new generation — e.g., Drab Majesty, The Foreign Resort, The Mary Onettes, Posh Lost, Topographies, and now Creux Lies — play it smart. They don’t try to hide their influences at all. Rather, they luxuriate in such classic sounds and in doing so, breathe new life into them and make them feel fresh and vibrant all over again.
Creux Lies wastes little time in doing just that. Album opener “Jungle” finds frontman Ean Clevenger’s deep baritone intoning over pounding rhythms and ominous atmospherics that are highlighted by Barry Crider’s soaring riffs. First single “Misunderstanding” channels the same high-energy programming heard in classic New Order and Depeche Mode, as does “Wicked”; Clevenger’s brooding voice strikes a definite Dave Gahan-esque pose. (You can practically see Gahan’s long-limbed frame looming over the songs.)
Beyond and beneath the musical nostalgia, there’s something essentially romantic about Creux Lies’ music. Not in the sense of eros (though I’m sure some of that’s present, too) but rather in the appeal to deep, heartfelt emotion as heard on the sweeping “PS Goodnight,” which Clevenger has described as “a story of the riches of friendship and the inevitability of mortal poverty.” Appropriately, the band softens their sound a bit here, putting their synths on a dreamier setting and bringing in some acoustic guitar. As for Clevenger’s voice, it’s at its most stirring while he sings “Mercy you, you helped me shine/Although the last, it was the first time.”
As with their influences, the members of Creux Lies aren’t afraid to wear their hearts and emotions on their goth-shrouded sleeves — which makes their particular take on classic darkwave that much stronger and more invigorating.