Italian rockers The Crooks have jumped off the hiatus train to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. To fully celebrate, The Crooks have released a new concept album titled, Mediacracy. Recorded like an old-school ’70s rock band, Mediacracy was recorded on tape and showcases the band’s love for power-pop while creating a modernized sound for new listeners.
Mediacracy follows a fictional character named Tony and attempts to tell the story of a society unlike our own that’s powered and relies heavily on social media influence. So, does The Crooks’ comeback release achieve their goals of spotlighting society’s glaring issues? Or is Mediacracy just the same old power-pop generic tale? Let’s find out.
Featuring Zebra of fellow Italian rock band Boogie Spiders, “Intro Tony” is a fun, almost voicemail-style track that successfully gets listeners hooked on the journey our character Tony is about to embark on as he leaves everything behind with a rough-sounding demo and a catchy writing style.
The small runtime of “Intro Tony” had me wanting more of the track’s catchy narratives and had me singing “I’m too lazy” around the house. Right off the bat, after the track’s less than thirty-second runtime, I knew I was in for a fun musical experience.
“I Know” continues my love for The Crooks’ earworm tendencies. The track is fun, full of energy, and the perfect track to play in the car with the windows down, singing as loud as you can.
If you only have time to listen to one track off of Mediacracy, it should be “I Know,” that way, you can annoy your loved ones by singing, “I know/I know/I know/I know what I want” constantly for months to come.
“I Know” can be seen as your standard power-pop track style, filling in checks on a checklist, but the song’s simplicity makes it so easy to love. From the screeching guitars to easily memorable lyrics? “I Know” has it all and is one of the funnest tracks I’ve enjoyed listening to.
If you’re a fan of Green Day’s brand of power-pop/pop-punk, then “In the Air” should be instantly thrown onto a few of your playlists. The Crooks continue to shine with their unique and old-school power-pop soundscape that presents itself as a familiar feeling while being its own thing.
The energy presented throughout Mediacracy is off the charts, and “In the Air” is one of the album’s top hitters following my love for “Intro Tony.” The album’s consistent tempo presents an easy listening experience that can make the album’s thirty-odd minutes feel like a quick fifteen-minute jog.
“In the Air” continues the high stakes presented within “I Know” while not skimping on the band’s use of catchy hooks and sensational instrumentals to grasp listeners’ attention quickly.
Instrumentally, “Oliver Onions” is my favorite track off of Mediacracy. It continues the album’s fun attitude while conveying needed emotion through heavy rhythms and worry full guitar riffs. “Oliver Onions” changes things up enough to keep the album from becoming a stale musical experience and continues the story of Tony as he finds himself and what matters to him in life.
I love the track’s use of emotional depth and power-pop callbacks to pull a nostalgic feeling while once again putting their unique spin on the genre keeping listeners on their toes.
Lending his fantastic guitar playing for “Bad Boys” is the talented Ricky Rat, who continues to push The Crooks further and further from being just a sound built on nostalgia.
“Bad Boys” also continues to showcase how amazingly good The Crooks are at putting together a song that will destroy your auditory cortex with immense ease as “Bad Boys” is yet another track that will become part of your mental playlist, popping in and out as you get on with your day.
Many modern groups try to push out a track like “Bad Boys” but fail to understand the track’s fundamentals. In contrast, The Crooks have set out to release a fun track that invokes an array of memories and emotional triggers that will have listeners shouting out “bad boys.”
There’s nothing quite like a power-pop love ballad, and “You Are So Special” has all the charm and flair of a rom-com’s soundtrack with the band’s angsty attitude to help boost the track to new heights.
It’s the continued simplicity of Mediacracy that has me loving every song featured on the band’s anniversary release and me wishing more bands would take the less is more approach of a love ballad like “You Are So Special” that continues the album’s high energy presence while also slowing things down for a fun three-minute ride.
There’s a sense of wanting when it comes to a track like “You Are So Special” that The Crooks have laid out in a straightforward manner that makes it easy to love.
I’m a sucker for a good bass line, and “Caged” delivers the goods like cookies waiting for Santa’s arrival. “Caged” slows things down a notch, matching the energy level of “You Are So Special,” instead opting to continue to add weight to the album’s tone versus jumping right into a punk show of flare and glory-hoarding.
“Caged” instrumentally feels like the band’s track to showcase their individual skill sets while not losing focus on their album’s concept as a whole, continuing to breathe life into their fictional narrative that shows the ups and downs of Tony’s musical pursuits.
“Give me more time.” A row of lyrics never hit the heart harder than knowing time is never on our side. I love the band’s use of heavy themes in a fun playground of punk vibes and raw energy.
Lester Greenowski brings an aggressive edge to Mediacracy with his powerhouse vocal structure that catapults “It’s Easy” to the moon and back again, filled with a new sense of purpose and ego.
“It’s Easy” is probably on the bottom half of tracks when it comes to my tastes, but it’s a fun time that breaks things up just a little to continue the band’s difference in approach while putting out a memorable power-pop album.
A track truly drenched in rock and roll, “It’s Easy” will easily find an audience of headbangers and mosh rats while being simple enough that the pop crowd will quickly be singing along lyric for lyric while simultaneously dancing from side-to-side.
Throwing things into high gear, “Right Next” sees The Crooks turn things up to eleven as the band full explodes with energy, showcasing their rock roots and high-energy antics while also continuing not to break the vibe they started from “Intro Tony.”
A fun track in its own right, “Right Next” features Raldo Useless of The Gluecifer shredding on lead guitar as The Crooks dance around his empowering display of rock prowess. Lyrically, “Right Next” continues to be a catchy affair, getting the track’s simple line of “all you want to hear is right next to you” stuck deep in your mind while you solo mosh in public.
“Rise It Up” brings the tone of the album back a few tracks and matches up with “Caged” by being an emotionally rich experience that never loses grip on the band’s fun nature and approach.
“Rise It Up” is perfect for midnight rides along the beach or countryside, singing, playing along in air guitar fashion, and enjoying your night-heralded experience while basking in Kevin Preston’s soothing vocal cues and playful melodies. A fun contrast to The Crooks’ beat-em-up vocal approach.
The album’s tenth track is fun, deep in thought, and continues to push the needle evenly toward the album’s end.
“Please Believe Me” is a guitarist’s paradise; filled with high-flying soundscapes and a field of palm mutes, “Please Believe Me” attempts to match up energy-wise with “Rise It Up,” and though it stumbles at times, it finds perfect footing to become a track that can stand on its own.
Another track built upon fantastic storytelling in the form of thematic lyrical structure, “Please Believe Me,” though not my favorite track instrumentally, is one of my favorites regarding its lyrical integrity. Hitting listeners with a one-two punch of goodness, this is a top-five track The Crooks have on their hands.
A track that gives me Motown vocal qualities, “Remedy” is the best track featured on Mediacracy as it features The Crooks letting go and fully showcasing themselves to new listeners in the form of catchy singalong style vocals, storytelling galore and a delightful array of instrumental ideas that brings listeners back around to the fun aspects of the album.
I’d take an entire album filled with tracks that give off The Crooks’ Motown soundscape, as it’s wholly different and shows their unique take on power-pop in stride.
“Remedy” was single handily the track I hit replay on the most during this review and even afterward. The sensational sound featured throughout the track had me hooked and still does.
“Apophenia” is a fun-filled experience and the track I most wanted to skip. Presenting nothing previous tracks hadn’t already showcased, “Apophenia” comes off as a glorified b-side. It has fun aspects and keeps the tone of the rest of Mediacracy but comes off as lacking something.
“Apophenia” starts strong before dropping into a pool of familiarity of its own breed, creating a merry-go-round of same-old-same-old. Instrumentally, the track will get your heart going and could be a grower rather than an outright skip, but as of this review, it’s the track I will likely skip over while going through future listens.
“Bye Bye Baby” takes The Crooks back in time to the age of classic rock and brings the fun back to center stage. The fourteenth track off Mediacracy is back to simple formulas and loudspeaker antics, creating a loose-feeling sense of freedom.
The track’s let-loose antics help it soar above the rest, as it never attempts to take itself too seriously, instead opting for a free for all of good vibes surrounded by a wall of sound and singalong scenarios.
“Bye Bye Baby” should provide a laid-back experience in a live setting, which would also take the track even higher in becoming a fan favorite. I’d love to hear this track with other fans just coasting along the wave of sound provided by The Crooks.
Ready to hit the beach? Because The Crooks are prepared to take things to surf city as “Jump In” closes out Mediacracy on a high note. “Jump In” is fast, a frenzy, and musically so much fun, matching the energy of the album’s earlier tracks to bring things to a satisfying end.
“Jump In” is straight fun, catchy, and the perfect track to take with you to the gym as The Crooks waste zero time getting hearts beating and blood rushing.
Instrumentally, this is The Crooks at their best; a fast-paced blur that will have listeners hitting the replay button faster than The Flash. “Jump In” comes off as a signature track that listeners can show to friends and get them hooked in less than ten seconds. A phenomenal closing piece for an overall stellar album.
While I didn’t enjoy all fifteen songs featured on Mediacracy, there were more that had me excited and full of life than dead-listening, waiting for the time to pass. A great example of music being subjective; is that the tracks that didn’t go so well with my listening tastes could easily find a home with another listener, which continues to make music a beautiful thing.
Mediacracy is a fun, high-stakes album filled with life and experiences to last years. The Crooks managed to release an album that showcased the beauty of old-school power-pop in under an hour and also told a fictional story about a character we learn to embrace. Mediacracy is one of a kind and an album I’ll indeed be revisiting time and time again.