There’s a chance you’ve heard more about the music of Crosses than you’ve actually heard the music of Crosses. You’ve perhaps heard that this is a side-project of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno. You’ve possibly have heard that it also includes his old friend and former Far guitarist Shaun Lopez, and the fantastically named Chuck Doom, in the ranks. And you’ve almost certainly heard that the trio play witch house.
Now let’s get one thing straight. This album isn’t witch house. I mean, I don’t think anybody really knows what witch house is, but while Crosses (or ††† if we’re being font faithful) initial output apparently did enough to qualify as the newly-coined but somehow already widely-derided microgenre, this, their debut proper, is something else. It’s glossy electronica it’s dream pop, it’s Moreno’s Depeche Mode fandom writ larger than ever. And sometimes it is crisp and clean and catchy enough to be a balls-out, unabashed pop album.
Whatever the genre, there are moments of greatness here. ‘Telepathy’ pivots from slinky, smoky verses to a head-bobbing midnight disco chorus, if Trent Reznor had written ‘Bitches Brew’ people would be calling it an instant classic, and ‘Thhlyghst’, complete with an absolutely massive, arms-in-the-air-in-front-of-a-cliff-edge chorus, is one of the best things Moreno has ever put his name to.
There are also moments where it’s… not so great. The rumbling verses of ‘Option’ sound like filler, or like Filter, ‘Blk Stallion’ (A nod to ‘White Pony’?) is hamstrung by a buzzing bass line, and little of the music here is played with a light touch. Moreno has spoken of Crosses as “minimal and soothing” but it’s most often busy and brisk, and occasionally falls over itself aiming for epic. There’s also a lot of it. 15 tracks over an hour with little variation means the album starts to grind as it goes on- the synth packs become familiar, the sparse beats repeat, the bright whites and shocking pinks blur into grey.
‘Crosses’ is not witch house then. But it is worth hearing. And if the trio behind it can simultaneously expand and streamline their approach, their next effort could be incredible.