Crusaders of Love – Take It Easy…But Take It!

Crusaders of Love
Take it Easy…but Take it!

It’s a little weird that the leadoff track on Crusaders of Love’s second LP bears the name of their two-year-old debut Never Grow Up. To say the band embodies that phrase, however, would be an understatement. The power-pop flag these Lille-bred Frenchies wave is emblazoned with all the trappings of youth: Snotty vocals, partying, naivety and intense, short-lived love. With that in mind, maybe it’s not so strange they’ve doubly announced their commitment to adolescence.

“Never Grow Up” boasts all the genre trappings: A bouncy beat, repetitive lyrics (“No I never had a job/ Never had a job/ Because I never wanted one” is one of many examples) and rockin’ solos accenting the same three tried-and-true chords. There’s a nod of reflection in the tune when frontman Alexandre Fleuris questions, “Are my dreams all dead now?” But otherwise, it’s a straight-up ode to anti-adulthood.

To be honest, the Crusaders of Love aren’t exactly dynamic creatively. Take it Easy….but Take it! not only sounds a lot like Never Grow Up, but also like the band’s predecessors. The first few riffs and initial drumbeat combo of “Make It” is blatantly borrowed from the Exploding Hearts’ “I’m a Pretender.” Whether intentional or not, it’s too obvious a likeness to deny. For any diehard fan of the genre, such spot-on duplication might be tiresome.

But their mastery of the homage is commendable, and it’s fair to say a lot of power-pop is an amalgam of the past. A saving grace of distinction: Fleuris’ vocals are high and nasally, a trait more typical of punk, not power-pop. Forever phlegmy with a side of bratty, the result gives some uniqueness to the sound. And it’s well-suited for lines like “Summer’s over and I know/ You’re gonna be gone forever/ I thought we could stay together,” the lead-up to the whiny lost-love tale of “Next Summer.”

While “Lonely City” thrashes a little, “A Place We’re All Going” is the album’s only real foray outside the expected rubric. The song is expansive and echoing; drawn-out, borderline psych riffs replace the staccato style employed the bulk of the other 10. It’s their particular brand of ballad, standing totally opposite of where the LP started. Let’s not be fooled, though. The Crusaders of Love don’t want to grow up, so they probably never will – and holding tight to an overwhelming idolatry is part of that.