Army Navy’s – “The Crushed EP”

“. . . this EP finds its creative impetus from a near-deadly car crash.” -LF

Lee Fowler

8.5
out of 10

Army Navy
The Crushed EP
August 20, 2013
Roll Call Records

Once upon a misspent youth, I mistakenly purchased an Apples in Stereo album thinking it was an Autumns record. When I got to my car and tore off the packaging of Discovery of a World Inside the Moone, the maudlin and moody warble I expected from Matthew Kelly and company was a replaced by Rob Schneider’s buoyant, nasal voice singing, “You say you wanna go, go baby!” My friend, whose record collection revealed he was still basking in emo’s radiant glory days, was sitting in the passenger seat. He gave it 20 seconds before he ejected it and popped in whatever Promise Ring record made us cry the most.

Back then, dramatic, sensitive chaps like me weren’t opposed to sunniness in our music. We just wanted it to rain sooner or later. Army Navy is one of those bands where it can rain and shine at the same time. The lovelorn jangle of The Crushed EP is no great departure from their previous efforts, and that’s perfectly ok. The furiously strummed first notes of the first track are pure melancholia (a la My Bloody Valentine’s drumless “Sometimes”) before they, too, drop out for frontman Justin Kennedy’s plaintive question, “Am I just too tired for it?” Guitars return, and they bring friends, crescendoing over the chorus into a layered guitar frenzy. “Pickle” is a delightfully sappy jaunt through bittersweet heartache, again employing the strummed acoustic guitar overlaid with bright and hopeful reverb arpeggios. The wistful “Summer Morning” strikes a more minor note, and “Running Wild” brings up the rear with a more unabashedly happy, Apples in Stereo-esque pop rock rampage. Remixes of “Crushed Like the Car” follow, but seem a little beside the point. They’re interesting, and it’s fun to see how pieces of the song return and hold up in another form, but I find myself longing for the straightforward version again.

The problem with most of these sentimental young lads is that they often seem so preoccupied with the pop form that the content descends into empty, trite expressions of love and lost love. Army Navy, however, marries form and content in a way that sacrifices neither. Far from being a worn paean to teenage nostalgia, this EP finds its creative impetus from a near-deadly car crash. The jangly chords and Bob Pollard-like vocals that follow are then filled with the alternating solemn depths and victorious heights of a real experience, a real story. This dynamic is articulated perfectly in “Pickle” as Kennedy enjoins us to “navigate these empty rooms / just try to concentrate on something joyful.” Army Navy does just that.