PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves: Drive It Like You Stole It

Jon Langmead

Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves

Drive It Like You Stole It

Label: 12XU
US Release Date: 2003-02-24
UK Release Date: 2003-02-24

It seemed pretty unlikely that a good song, never mind a whole album, could be written anymore about cars (Elastica's "Car Song" being the exception). It would either come across as an overly contrived nod at a classic rock 'n' roll theme or as just too simple-minded and lazy. Sally Crewe defies common sense with Drive It Like You Stole It, practically a whole album of car songs that sport a bit of Elastica's sneering sexuality with a flat admittance that some of us are getting to the age where the prospect of dropping everything and hitting the highway is becoming increasingly fraught with second thoughts.

Crewe is no Justine Frischmann, but her come-ons are surprisingly confident; she never lets on that she may doubt herself and I don't think the album would work if she did. "See me here in the kitchen getting ready to meet you / Did I catch you by surprise / Television in your eyes / Should I walk away or give you a preview" she asks on "Tonight", and the result is a sexier take on Yo La Tengo's introspective domesticity. On "Got A Car, Got A Job" you can hear the wheels turning in her head as she weighs her options: "I've been thinking about leaving London / I've got friends in Austin that I know / But I got a house and got a dog / Got a car and got a job / Yeah you know". Yeah, Sally, I do know, and the choices are never easy.

Her road metaphors are all on the surface; driving is its own reward and while a fast car might be a ticket to a better life for some, for others it's enough just to get off on the thrill of burying the speedometer. Her pleasures and preoccupations are stated so single-mindedly (even the biggest difference between being in England as compared to the United States is having to drive on the left) and with such simplicity that lyrically she could be picking up where Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go" left off. Her "0-60" ("Got high on the hill now you're over") is every bit as effective as Elvis Costello's "45" at playing the age game -- even if they take different routes, with Crewe's employing considerably fewer verses -- to get to pretty much the same place.

A bit slight if you like your rock to be, you know, obviously serious, Crewe makes her songs work by playing to her strengths. The Village Voice compared her work here to the Cars' first album and that's hilariously on (the guitar line from "Friend of the City" even sounds a bit like "Best Friend's Girl"). Still, giving a quick re-listen to that particular Cars album as a point of comparison shows how much Crewe gets out of her sparse instrumentation. With Drive It Like You Stole It's twelve songs clocking in at just over 26 minutes, and with the two best ("Wake up the Heroes" and "Got A Car, Got A Job") adding up to under three, there's little time or room for a solo to push things over the top or for one more chorus to really drive things home. She errs on the side of brevity, and while you might hope that one day she gives herself the chance to be overblown even a little, her songs hardly suffer for her musical conservatism.

Plus, she gets backup from Spoon's Jim Eno on drums and Britt Daniel on bass and piano. This could make Crewe lucky, I suppose, or good, depending on where you're looking at the situation from, but I'll take good based on the fact that Eno and Daniel don't bury her on her own album. It speaks to her understated strengths. She pushes the best parts of their contribution right up to the front and makes her decision seem painfully obvious; why else would you want the two guys from Spoon on your album anyway unless you wanted them to do what they're best at? Judging from the songs where their parts are the most distinctive (Daniel's backing vocals on "Forget It", his piano line on "Friend of the City"), she could have perhaps played up their role even more.

Crewe consciously keeps things simple; the instrumentation varies little from song to song and as a result, unless you're paying attention, much of what makes the album work is likely to slip past. Depending on your mood, the album can either zip right along or get bogged down in repetition. With the disc's slower songs ("Silver" and "Lying about My Age") faring the worst, you have to wonder about Crewe's versatility. Still, "Wake up the Heroes" is the new-wave update song that all of those East Coast kids in their skinny ties and tight jeans have been trying to write (best line: "If my car had a back seat we'd be in it") and that's not so bad.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.