Full Crumb “Maelstrom Protocol” C90
(Fall Break Records)

Full Crumb is from the UK, and they let you know it right away on their Fall Break Records debut cassette, Maelstrom Protocol. Somewhere between Bernard Sumner and Morrissey, those vocals are so obviously English, you’ll want to split your own face open with the Union Jack in utter glee, then pour a pint of lager all over the wound. If that’s too gross a visual for you, then I suggest you purchase a pair of Union Jack cargo shorts and wear them to all your major company functions, because those American flag ones I’ve seen are just pissing me off too damn much. But I live in the South, so maybe fashion is just different around here.

Anyhoo – this tape is a winner. Lo-fi indie meets experimental pop, and the result is a carefully crafted album that would fit nicely on record shelves next to releases by The Wedding Present, Inspiral Carpets, or early Blur. The recording is cloaked in a bit of haze, and the quality is certainly sub-studio, which in this case, and many others, elevates the songs and requires the listener to parse out their favorite little details. Standouts like “Same Day Return” and “Nocturnal Omissions” are actual pop chart fodder. Trust me, if this was 1994, you’d hear these tunes on the radio.

Tracks are separated by weird samples, giving the whole thing a consistent vibe and ensuring that Maelstrom Protocol isn’t too straight-line rock or pop that you’ll get bored with it. (You wouldn’t anyway, just saying is all.) Sideways excursions help too, such as the acoustic beauty “Cactus Factory” or the instrumental synth bopper “Pedlar Wife Hole” (whatever that means…). And hey, my favorite thing! A super-long album-ending song! The twelve-minute “Free Fall Viaduct” grooves its way through its runtime, and I’m entranced. I’m freaking out actually. I’ve changed into my Union Jack shorts, but my American flag shorts are on my head, and I’ve got a t-shirt emblazoned with the state flag of Cameroon (don’t ask). I’m scrawling British slang all over my white Chuck Taylors in Sharpie too. Because I love you, the UK!

Edition of 50, but who knows how many are left – this was released at the tail end of 2014. The whole album repeats on side B. Hidden inside of J-card is the phrase, “Time flies like an arrow – fruit flies like a banana.” Cheeky monkeys!

--Ryan Masteller