January 14, 2018
Released On January 17, 2012
Released By Synthemesc Recordings
The first ever song I heard by Crozet was in a movie called That Awkward Moment — which, ironically, is what I would totally title a movie about my life — and as soon as I heard it, I was hooked. I knew I needed to listen to everything else this band had put out there, no matter what, and just find out if they could live up to the lofty expectation that first song cast. I half-expected to be disappointed in my searching, but as I landed on this album, I knew all my hopes were justified.
While That Awkward Moment could be the title of the movie about my life, this record could be that soundtrack, matching perfectly with the “movie of my life” soundtrack that’s always playing in the background of my head. From start to finish, it just matches perfectly. As I’ve mentioned time and time again here, I just love instrumental albums so obviously this fits, but even the sparse lyrics throughout this record match-up perfectly to the sounds always filling my head.
We’ll Be Gone By Then is the music that you play when you’re going for a drive with no particular destination, or going for a walk just to get lost — moments where you’re just taking in what is happening around you. It is an album that is made for ordinary days that turn in to the best memories, designed to make you feel and live. I have played it countless times at my pool on those ordinary, lazy summer days, and as I sit here in the ever-plunging temperatures of Canadian winter, listening to it brings me back to those days, and has me longing for summer to return.
The record is strong throughout, but it definitely picks up steam near the end with the stand-out tracks “Closed Shades” and album closer “We’ll Be Gone By Then.” Both make me feel invincible each time I hear them, matching up to the scene in the movie where everything works out despite the odds, like finally overcoming your struggles or finding out that another person feels the exact same way as you. They are just full of hope and always make me feel positive about whatever the future may hold.
I’m so happy this album made its way into my life, perfectly mirroring what had always been playing in the back of my mind. My only wish is that you yourself find a track or two here to add to your own collection and maybe, just maybe, personal soundtrack.
Dazzling synthpop that’s rooted in the warmth of yesteryear and amplified by the insight of today.
Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that the 1980s wasn’t just known for frenetic clothing patterns and gated snare drums. There were moments when the sonic grandness aspired to in much of the 1980s sound, if channeled in just the right way, could take elements that — though corny feeling very dated on their own — created an air of enjoyable calm that didn’t lead to eventual laughter. Such releases were and are sincerely refreshing as listening experiences. Crozet’s We’ll Be Gone By Then is not one of those times. Well, at least not entirely. We’ll Be Gone By Then is certainly worth the praise given to the album back during its 2012 release and, having not looked at what was said about the record before diving into listening, the opening track, “I’m Lost” delivers anything but a lost or ambiguous musical direction. Its loose, wavy, and non-dissonant melody aren’t without ’80s sonic hallmarks but, rather than be pulled to them irrevocably and instantaneously, the instrumentally dated nature of the opener is a second thought over the initial pull to thoughts of under-recognized indie films that depict someone in transition of life or someone reflecting upon a whirlwind of events just happened or yet to come. A coming of age film with a long, dialogue-less montage or, a slow fade from an ending scene in a previously hectic romance seems like the visual counterpart to balance this introduction and under-recognized movie goodness seems like the perfect partner to a piece of under-recognized music from a decade often musically ribbed. The haziness of the sustained, smooth, humming synth tones playing gradual chord changes, alongside thinner, higher pitched, and laser like tones cutting through those changes on tracks like “We Can See It” all feels very reminiscent of the aesthetic used on Songs For The Late Night Drive Home, the third LP of Stephen Christian’s non-Anberlin project, Anchor & Braille. These aspects of We’ll Be Gone By Then remind me of why this conglomeration of ’80s style synth-pop shouldn’t be dismissed and can be quite fun to hear. The only downside is that it makes me question whether I accept the style because it was more recently paired with a vocalist whose singing style and lyrics I enjoy or if it’s because Christian managed to find a formula of chill-wave ’80s synth application that overcomes decade’s tonal caricature slide. Given that beyond Anchor & Braille, I’m also left thinking (as I often am with overly dramatic ’80s style synth use) of scenes from Twin Peaks and early Unsolved Mysteries (the crime show only gets a pass on remarks about sound/narrative pairing hilarity because the cases were real), I’m not sure Crozet breaks away entirely on its own platform of existence. Though at the end of the day, how someone arrives at the point of enjoying a record doesn’t really matter if they find themselves returning to it and devoting time to listening right? So in the end, We’ll Be Gone By Then catches and holds my ear.
I love OYR for records like this. This is one of those records that I was clearly not cool enough to be aware of when it was released in 2012, and seven years later I’m having a ball listening to it as part of my weekly super-nerd music discussion. The nostalgic feel of the entire record is at worst charming; at best magical. From a production standpoint, Crozet got everything right. Every synth patch was expertly chosen and tweaked just enough to make us believe we’re in 1982 and not 2012. The drums are all sounds found on the prominent drum machines of the day (Roland TR-808 & TR-909), which is why we get the oh-so lovable hip hop influenced patterns of “Closed Shades,” which if you stripped away the melodic instruments could easily be a classic Whodini record. Taking the nostalgia a step further, you can’t tell me the herky-jerky drum style wasn’t directly patterned after Prince, who unapologetically pioneered the practice of deliberately pushing the snare a nanosecond ahead of the beat to give the tracks even more of an urgency. Other standout tracks like “We Can See It” and “Just Wait” make me think that this is exactly the beat tape that Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald’s character in The Breakfast Club) would listen to, as opposed to mine. I’m nowhere near cool enough.
I have had one crazy week. No need for details, but all of that ruckus plus the fact that I’m still in my Best Of 2018 mode for AnEarful means I have not listened to one note of this week’s selection. In an attempt to turn that liability into a strength, I am going to try something new: press play and start writing. No background research, either, although I cannot tell a lie: I saw the name of British house and techno maven Carl Cox as I scrolled by their most recent album, making me suspect there could be a dance music component. Ok, here goes… three… two… one… play! “I’m Lost” has a “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise” vibe before synth strings and washes enter. And yup, there it is: bass drum, four on the floor. Slow, though, and getting dreamier by the minute, too, with layers of Eno-esque guitar. Beautiful song — art rock electronica, very much in my zone. Can they stay there? “Just Wait” is a little busier, but at the same draggy tempo. Drums push the ’80s cheese factor a little harder, but the guitars are once again a saving grace. The vocals, deep in the mix and repeating one line over and over again, add a touch of loneliness. “Neon” is slightly upbeat and feels more like a “song,” which is maybe not their strongest suit. The retro synth-pop factor is significantly higher here. The energetic “On The Line” comes next and makes it clear they are not playing — they absolutely love a drum sound that many would prefer to forget, especially the producers forced to use it to stay “current” 30 years ago. Anthemic chorus and brief guitar wails are most welcome. The title of “Closed Shades” makes me think of American Gigolo, shafts of sunlight across a mussed bed dressed with 1500-thread-count linens and illicit lovers intertwined. Huge snare sound, artificial handclaps — and hooks! The mostly instrumental “He’s A Nomad” returns to dreamier territory, could be something Deckard and Rachel hear on the radio on the way out of town. “We Can See It” is fully lyric-free, great soundtrack material, with an absolutely bonkers drum fill that has to be heard to be believed. The title track closes out the album on their most anthemic note yet, leaving us with uplift instead of melancholy. Nicely done, boys! Now I’m curious to see what they sound like six years later. Are they still in the ’80s or have they moved on – only way to find out is to press play!
Constructing the band’s expansive sound within an intimate experience that’s viewed through the requisite lens.
On the Bandcamp page for We’ll Be Gone By Then, you’ll find a description of the album that includes the following: “Imagine, becoming one with your favorite John Hughes film. Pure ’80s bliss.” And while “An epic wall of sound built out of huge drums, creamy layered synths, reverb-drenched vocals, hints of guitar and pure love” is a fitting characterization of what We’ll Be is, the part about being a bridge (a soundtrack?) to a Hughes movie is what grabbed my attention while listening to this record. Specifically, I spent my time figuring out which of his movies would work best in that context. Initially, I settled on The Breakfast Club due to its sense of self-discovery and the accompanying bliss (read: endorphin high) at the end. But TBC is dark for much of its runtime and, thus, doesn’t really fit the tone of the album. So, nope. Instead, it’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. [I’m going to pause for a moment to point out I’m ignoring the fan theory that Ferris doesn’t exist and is just a voice in Cameron’s head. It’s an interesting and highly entertaining idea, but it isn’t relevant here.] The entire film is one long sugar high, an ode to freedom — at least, how a teenager sees it — and its infinite possibilities that’s as universal as anything Hughes portrayed in his work. It’s this freedom, this pre-adult longing for independence, that allows Ferris to break the fourth wall and to have an impossibly fun-filled day without any consequence. Or as George Will put it upon the film’s release: “the moviest movie, the one most true to the general spirit of movies, the spirit of effortless escapism.” (If you read the entire column, it’s 800 words of “In my day…” pretentiousness. Ugh. But, hey, he got something right.) It’s this same moment when the rollercoaster hits its peak that carries the entire album along. The album’s near-constant ascension — “Every track builds into something bigger” as the Bandcamp description goes — creates its own momentum. While listening to it, you feel like you could run a marathon in an hour or bench press a car or jump over a building. Or maybe, just maybe, your life could be as fun as Ferris’ just for one day. Wouldn’t that be something?
Mental space is at a premium for me at work. Working in a secure facility, I’m constantly monitored on cameras pointed all around the room. My desk is in a room that also functions as a visiting space, so anything left out on my desk or bookcase could be stolen as contraband or by someone’s family member for whatever reason. In those snatched moments of peace, I throw on some giant headphones and blare music so I can tune them out and focus in. Rarely do I listen to submissions, because the music may not fit my flow. For some reason, this week I turned on Crozet, and this beautiful mix of chill and pop flowed into my headphones. Layered, intense, each track on We’ll Be Gone By Then stacked up, brick by brick, into this gorgeous wall of sound. The absolute banger of a title track thumps, burns the album out in a hip-shaking trail guaranteed to get you jumping with other people or bury you down in a glittery, synthy haze if you’re working alone.
Laura Burroughs (@_thetwors)
Jestful Musical Erudite
One of my best friends has a habit of making shit up just to fuck with his coworkers. Like, a ridiculous movie plot or piece of trivia, which he will then feign shock that they’ve never heard this obviously well-known bit of information that he just made up on the spot. His favourite was successfully convincing several people (who then went on to repeat it) that the word “fortnight” was coined “during settler times,” and referred to how long people were stationed at forts. I’m a terrible liar, so this has never been my sort of thing, but I can see myself being able to convince people that We’ll be Gone by Then is the soundtrack to some obscure ’80s film they’ve never heard of. It probably starred Andrew McCarthy or someone else with that look, and had many scenes of him angstily driving through his shitty small town where no one, like, got him. And he’d get in the car just as “Closed Shades” was coincidentally starting, and turn it up as the score swells. He’d be doing some underage drinking and driving and occasionally smashing his fist into the steering wheel, and we’d be waiting for something terrible to happen, but everyone drinks and drives in these movies and rarely do we see any repercussions. And now I’ve half convinced myself this actually is the score to such a movie, which is another reason I’m bad at this game.
50 Foot Pop Queenie
Though minimal in design, the lyrics speak to the core of the record with precise words becoming poignant mantras.
I’m writing this after dropping my sister and her family off at the airport for their flight back to Wisconsin after a weekend visit. We listened to We’ll Be Gone By Then on the way, in part because I was curious what they’d think. My brother-in-law quickly commented on the drum sounds, the decade that likely inspired them (the 1980s), and the connection he heard between Crozet and the French electronic group M83. My mind went elsewhere: I started thinking about the emotional coloring, and how nicely “I’m Lost” would pair with the last scene of a movie. The one that immediately came to mind was the conversation that takes place after Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari gets destroyed at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (“I made you take the car this morning.” “I could have stopped you. It is possible to stop Mr. Ferris Bueller, you know.”) The unexpected sense of calm that overtakes the notoriously anxious Cameron — that’s what I heard in “I’m Lost.” As we got closer to the airport, we kept coming up with similar scenarios that would fit the music we were hearing — hypothetical post-climactic moments where characters might reflect on recent transformative experiences with a new earned wisdom. And it hit me during “We Can See It” — we were in one of those moments, having just enjoyed an weekend packed with amazing meals, hilarious kid interactions, a rock show, and an improvised, calendar-defying simulated Christmas morning. After saying goodbye to the Wisconsinites, as I was driving away, I looked at my phone and the name of the closing/title track hit me like a ton of bricks. The weekend was gone. I was swimming in a pool of instant nostalgia. And I had the perfect set of songs for starting to remember.
The idea of retro as it pertains to pop culture is a double-edged sword. There are video games released just this year which feature 8-bit blocky graphics no better than Space Invaders circa early ’80s technology. Many of the kids who produce these games weren’t alive in the ’80s and their entire knowledge of the subject is a peripheral interpretation of their parent’s nostalgia, be it positive or negative. We describe Pac-Man as “legendary” and kids create new games in its image, despite the fact that processors are hundreds of times as powerful and capable of easily producing arresting, stylized or life-like content. The exact same pattern plays out on Crozet’s 2012 record We’ll Be Gone By Then. The only real difference is the medium. Musically, this is the aesthetic of ’80s movie soundtracks when the latest musical technology (synthesizers) were so fresh and new that even ZZ Top couldn’t resist but play along to a sequencer. Crozet aren’t the first to pay homage to the era and certainly weren’t the last. Survive did it to great effect for the Stranger Things soundtrack most recently and a fairly obscure subgenre known as “synthwave” has emerged to encapsulate the numerous artists now engaging in this retro sound. But what makes Crozet’s record unique is less about the sound aesthetic and more about how they use it. The melodies here are strong and emotional rather than cheesy. The ’80s were all about overwrought drama and it could be argued that modern interpretations carry that same characteristic, but here Crozet presents something which is gentle, and wistful but still meaningful. Whereas M83 uses synths to go large and orchestral, Crozet explore similar emotional territory while keeping tight, focused, and minimal in their delivery. “Just Wait” invokes exactly the right kind of pacing with a bass kick like a heartbeat plodding along anxiously while synth arpeggio dances around the words “Don’t make me wait too long…” I lived through the ’80s. I played Space Invaders when it was originally released and at the time, it was the best a game programmer could do with the technology they had. They did the best with what they had. I listened to “synthwave” when it was just “pop.” We’ve moved into different territory now and I can no longer make the argument that we do the best with what we have. When the tools and technologies eliminate boundaries, new artists do whatever suits them and sometimes that’s a glossy reinterpretation of my own nostalgia. I’ll take it.
Beyond the shimmering synth sounds, past the warm and inviting aesthetic, and clear of the duo’s awe-inspiring vision, you’ll find the core of this record’s appeal: the lyrics. Sparse, but poignantly constructed, they appear tenuously through each song, yet are made of sturdy concepts and robust emotion. Like any good lyrical record, I find myself in these thoughts, with each line feeling directed straight at me, either because my recent workload has left me in a suggestible state or the music is so overwhelming that anything spoken would instantly resonate with me. I’d argue it’s strongly the latter, but let’s be real, the former is definitely a little bit true. 70-30 split, we’ll say. The mantra of “Don’t let me wait too long” in “Just Wait” really hits home, and over a few different listens, is a really elastic message that could mean anything from embracing procrastination to chasing elusive brilliance. Later on, “You won’t see a difference if I’m gone” shines a light on a covered idea, as it would for any writer in today’s world. With so much material being churned out on a daily basis, you often wonder how much the careful phrases you construct will mater later on. Will they be missed? Will there be a difference? Of course, the natural direction from this is to shift from looking at your output to your own existence, but surprisingly, the record doesn’t direct you into a bottomless existential crisis. It’s too hopeful for that. Too cathartic. Instead, it’s offering you real truths and asking you to rise above them, because what’s above them is truly magnificent. Despite this lyrical pull though, the lone wordless song, “I’m Lost,” pops out to me, gliding by as if words are hiding behind the corner just working up the courage and confidence to poke through. Being the opening track on the record too, occurring before any words suggests anything else, it shows me that it’s not just a particular mood or phase I’m going through that draws me to this sound, but instead Crozet’s judicious talent that’s constructed a malleable aesthetic worth experiencing in any period of your life.
We Are At Home In The Body by For Everest
Chosen By Doug Nunnally