The Crayon Set: Downer Disco review – sweet sound, rough around the edges

Fri, Sep 24, 2021, 05:00


Downer Disco

The Crayon Set



Have you heard about the sad banger? It’s the soundtrack to the modern age – four to the floor but make it hurt. Robyn is queen of the form, with everyone from Lorde to Dua Lipa following in wait. 

Adding an indie-pop sensibility to the canon, The Crayon Set have released their third album, Downer Disco. It’s a far cry from their 2013 debut, which showcased an ear for melodies, even if it was a little undercooked. Downer Disco posits a new identity for the band, filling a gap in the Irish scene left by Little Green Cars (after most of its members graduated to the more mature Soda Blonde).

There isn’t much to feel incensed by, but not a lot to get you going either. Don’t Step Back Too Far is a pleasant way to open the record, but while Summer Song balances melancholy with brighter tones, there’s little pay-off for such a strong build-up. Meanwhile, Rock Star/Dream Girl is a total earworm; sweet and swinging, with more than a hint of influence from Camera Obscura, and vocals – “it’s not like pop, it’s more like a work of art” – full of wry attitude.

Downer Disco is a sweet sound if a little rough around the edges. What’s important is that The Crayon Set seem to be edging further towards forging their own identity. It might take another album or two to nail it, but at least they’re on their way.