[12 November 2008]
Country-tinged orchestral pop occasionally turns prog rock on Proud Simon’s Night of Criminals. The five-piece centers around a guitar, bass, organ and drums mix that also incorporates various other instruments. Frontman Brian Keenan sings with a saccharine sweet voice on numbers that resemble The Weepies or Gin Blossoms (“Newspaper Boat”) while also sounding sophisticated enough for funk bass-lines and soaring guitar and organ.
The band veers toward different genres, as with its Southern jam rock “Everyone on the Train Could Use a Little Change”, the beginning of which sounds lifted from The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica”. The presence of a banjo on “Tar Washed Ashore” takes the piece to an Americana-drenched, surreal and dreamy place as flute and grainy guitar accompany a multi-part vocal harmonies that sound like a bubbling brook.
The album is divided into two sides, Act I and Act II, with liner note illustrations to resemble a medieval theatre production. “Tales as Tall” begins with strange vocal harmonies on a slowed-down bar-room medley as a passionate violin a la Devotchka cuts through the dirge-like soundscape. Grainy feedback becomes the same dwindling computer sound that introduces “Fitter, Happier” on Radiohead’s OK Computer. A truly mixed bag, Night of Criminals will sound even cooler after about five listens.