Crooked House


aec.dfa22616.2 10/26/18 New

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Review Text It only makes sense that the name of Crooked Man's second album alludes to where the nursery rhyme character lived, and Crooked House lives up to at least one part of its name: if possible, Richard Barratt and company are even more focused on house music's fundamentals this time around. With its echoing pianos and powerful vocals, "Walls" could be the style's dictionary definition, while tracks like the disco-tinged "Turnaround" and the shimmying "Take It All Away" add to the feeling that Crooked House is a perfectly mixed set of should-be dance hits. Though Crooked Man's quirks are less prominent than before, Barratt still finds some new wrinkles on his pop-friendly house. "Every Killer Needs a Friend," which pairs an inviting melody and skipping 6/8 beat with warped breakdowns, reaffirms his skills at shaking things up. Elsewhere, "Long Time Dead"'s cheeky, spooky vibe recalls his work with Róisín Murphy, while the subtle political undercurrent of "Here on Earth" and the clever wordplay on "Make Up" hint at the layers underneath Crooked House's irresistible grooves. That momentum is on full display on "Echo Loves Narcissus," a powerful yet graceful blend of surging synths and sighing vocals that evoke the title's mythological origins. The album only lets up on "Robots," a deceptively soothing warning about technology's creep into all aspects of life. Musically, at least, there's an effortlessness to Crooked House that puts listeners at ease; while it may be missing some of Crooked Man's surprises, this is stylishly crafted house music that sounds classic instead of predictable. ~ Heather Phares

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