Emerging Artists: Crybaby Special

crybabyspecial-largeTHERE is a lot in a name. Often the hardest part of a pub quiz, coming up with an imaginative, unique name is a deceptively difficult thing to do. Crybaby Special is a great name, attention grabbing, weird, and slightly disturbing. They haven’t just settled for basic alliteration and vague childish imagery (looking at you Dave Grohl). This alternativeness permeates the music too. Listening to No Excuses, their debut album, is a sometimes uncomfortable, challenging but also an utterly compelling and rewarding ride.

So onto the music. Tom Stafford (vocals, guitar), Lewis Ashley (drums) and Josh Carson (bass) craft a rollicking, theatrical brand of ska tinged punk. Hailing from Medway, they often play the local favourite Tap ‘n’ Tin nightclub, famous for being the site of the first Libertines reunion gig after Doherty’s prison stint. They could be forgiven for sometimes sounding reminiscent of the legendary band, but Staffords vocals are what really pushes them into the ‘miscellaneous’ category. Howling, twisting and screaming through the songs, he cuts a crazed figure much loved by fans.

The album begins with ‘No Excuses’ which is a barnstormer. It feels very carefree, the keening chorus states “I don’t know, she don’t know, we don’t care” with a dismissive swagger. On other songs to, Stafford’s voice is menacing, promising “cryings not gonna help you now” on ‘Let The Boy Down’. In ‘Wishing Well’, he makes something as innocuous as “la la la la” sound like its being sung like some murderous doll at a karaoke night. As the album progresses, it does begin to grate. Songs such as ‘Murder In The Wall’ sound great on their own but in the middle of this album the drama of them is almost too much. There are times when you wish for something simple, but the band push to the limit all the way through. By the time the jazz infused ‘Beezlebub Boogie’ closes the album, it feels like a hectic fairground ride that has gone on for too long, making your head spin.

As an album, it is sometimes overwhelming. As single songs it is often brilliant. So give them a go, you might hate it or you might just love it. Isn’t that what music is meant to be for? Just don’t try and sing along.

Best tracks- ‘No Excuses’, ‘Murder In The Wall’, ‘One Winged Bird’