Bob Tilton: Crescent


By Mike Pace

This is odd. The press release accompanying this record describes the band’s latest full length, but the record I was sent is Bob Tilton’s 1996 debut, Crescent. (Editor’s Note: The US release date was October 26, 1999.) Not that that matters much with a band like this. Let me explain.

I was very excited to hear this upon initial examination. Heralded as the British kings of “emo,” (perhaps the most trite musical genre yet-an amalgam of jangly indie/hardcore guitar rock, bad poetic lyrics, “emotional” imagery, and crying. Although it’s been flourishing underground since the mid-80’s in various forms and stratum, only recently has the style achieved more commercial success, with annoyingly catchy bands such as the Promise Ring and the Get Up Kids) named after an American televangelist and showcased in handsome packaging, no doubt done by a band member/graphic designer (which is usually the case with these bands), this baby could either sink or swim.

Unfortunately, and like too many bands of this type, it’s not very good. Here’s why: 1. The production is very bad. The guitars sound mushy, low and undefined. 2. The vocals are among the worst I’ve ever heard. What we have is a case of the singer ruining an otherwise mediocre record with a terrible, trembly, flat voice that is painful to listen to. Many times, the typical emo band will get out of this situation by having the vocalist scream and/or yell. Here, the singer is actually attempting to sing, and failing miserably. 3. Emo lyrics are without a doubt the most awful, laughable bunch of words assembled in any musical medium. Reading like a bad 11th grade English class poetry assignment, Bob Tilton come up with such pearls of wisdom as “I’ll paint you pictures of what it’s like down here/if you promise me skies like red red roses,” and “I stayed indoors/and tried to wash the carpets clean/I couldn’t get the blood out.” So very deep. 4. The music is just plain boring.

Not as sprawling as Sunny Day Real Estate nor as intense as New Jersey’s now-defunct You and I, Bob Tilton falls in comfortably with a 100 other nondescript bands who wear their hearts on their sleeves in order to get girls. In fact, the coolest thing about them is that they’re from England. I’ve discovered from years of listening to this kind of crap that it’s a simple formula that is very hard to pull off well. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your time on this.

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