Decent Criminal's 4th Album There's More To It Than Climbing Showcases The Bands Diversity and Creativity
Decent Criminal are quite possibly the most underrated band in the current rock scene. They straddle the line of punk and grunge pretty perfectly and much like another great band - Nirvana - they are loud and create songs that actually say something, and they can also tone things down to create a great melodic, moody song too.
On the band’s 4th album There’s More To It Than Climbing you get a great mix of their first three albums, in my opinion.
There are songs like “Driving” and “Soothe” that are very reminiscent of their second album Bloom (my personal favorite) and those songs rip hard.
In fact, I messaged lead singer Tristan Martinez to tell him that “Soothe” is their best song that they have ever made, because it is “shit my pants” good.
The album starts out with a bit of an “intro” song with “Outside.” It’s definitely a full song, but as it has only guitar, vocals and runs at 1:48, it’s actually a song reminiscent of their first album (“Riverside” for example) and sets the tone for the album as it is not a mono-thematic album in any sense.
“Driving” kicks right into the heavy sound that I mentioned became notable with Bloom, and the song is one of the best songs they have in their catalog for sure.
Next up is “Soothe” which, as I mentioned, is incredible, and it will likely be up for our rock song of the year for 2023. It comes in with a grungy rock guitar riff that reminds me of “Lazy Eye” by Silversun Pickups but with a twist.
The song also has a cool bridge that I personally can relate to saying:
“Same” might be the most unique song in all of Decent Criminal’s history as it has a bit of funk and jam-band sound to it with a pop melody. It’s almost like a Jack Johnson song with Martinez on vocals.
“Blind” definitely comes back in with a bang though. I assume it is the last song on Side A of the album (though I haven’t seen the Vinyl track listing yet), and it definitely marks the transition from some of the heavier stuff the band is known for and focuses more on the melody and the intricate song structures of Side B.
That can be seen right away from the song “You Dog” which definitely has more of that melodic rock sound to it that’s more reminiscent of late 90’s alt-rock (something like Sunny Day Real Estate maybe?).
Oh, and I should point out that this is the first song (via track order) in Decent Criminal’s history that has more than one word for the title which happens several times on the second half of this release.
The flow moves right into “Wanna Be” which keeps the vibe in tact for the second half of the album.
It feels like the songs flow from angry to sad to hopeful without specifically falling into the complaining trope of a lot of songwriting, and I should mention that I spoke to Martinez back in September of 2021 about this album which he said was already “finished” which I would be interested to see which songs were created after that time or removed from the album as well.
“Time” is another one of the songs on this album that is a completely new direction from what the band has been known for before this album. It’s a fully textured song with a slowed-down tempo that feels just like the dragging of time - even though the song starts with the line, “Time goes by so fast.”
In fact, they actually do have a fast version of this song on their new split with Direct Hit! called “Beacon 1.”
“Each Time I’m Away” has a bit of an added heavy sound within it at times, but overall keeps the same mood from the other songs on this side.
“Hold Me Down” is the jewel of the second side, in my opinion. It seems to embody everything that the previous 4 songs are alluding to, and I can’t quite tell you what the lyrics for all the songs are, but it kinda feels like the culmination of the events/relationships/feelings of the songs from “You Dog” to “Each Time I’m Away.” It’s a great way to wrap up the album and the B Side.
Now, I would say if I could have my way to make a “perfect” LP out of this particular release, I would have added “Summer Trip” (a single from 2022 which I THOUGHT was going to be on this album), “Reap” from the 2021 “DC/EP”, and “Dream” which is on their new 7-inch split with Direct Hit!.
If those 3 songs were added to this album in some way, I think it would have been a dead ringer for 5 out of 5 stars and probably the front runner for album of the year…hell, even without them, it still probably is. I just really love those songs.
I get why the band releases “non-album” songs as well though, and I should mention that former guitar player and co-singer (sang lead vocals on "Reap") Brian Gellman is not with the band right now (not sure if it is permanent or not) as he just recently had his first child.
So, I can’t be greedy since I can hear all the songs in the formats that they were released in, and I got no complaints with how these guys have directly taken over the control of their music and they are self-releasing the album on their new label DIISSED Records.
If you are a fan of Decent Criminal, you are going to love this album due to the way that they express themselves more creatively and create the music that THEY want to make and release instead of following a formula that most any other bands would just to stay the course.