DECENT CRIMINAL • Bliss • LP (maroon)
The Bay Area’s Decent Criminal has matured since their 2017 album Bloom and the sound proves to be a fit for this four-piece. Their new album Bliss chills out while still maintaining the straightforward nature of their older releases.
On Bliss, the band use sugary vocal melodies to offset their otherwise furious approach. “Surf rock” can be applied but only sparingly. More accurately would be punk rock with a good California chill, often reminiscent of 90’s punk rock. Bliss goes back and forth between three-minute pop-punk numbers and slightly shorter blasts, both with big, harmonizing choruses. On “Fade,” twinkly guitars over power chords hint change. But it’s really “Bleached,” that shows the tonal shift. Its sweet chorus of “I just want to lay with you for hours,” is lovely, a word not often associated with punk. This combination of raw sound and sweet sentiments is the best thing about Bliss. “Sigh” hits a similar note as its effected intro transitions into a well told story about friends and age. “Alone” is the biggest, slowest swing and sends the album off on a slightly sadder note. On the other side of the spectrum, “Loner” clocks in under a minute and a half and is an absolute rager. There are a few of these short bursts thrown in to show Decent Criminal has created a space where they can swing back and forth with powerful results. Yet it does seem Decent Criminal is actively headed for a more melodic sound.
Maybe it’s the California connection, but hints of early Green Day come to mind with Decent Criminal. So does the most recent FIDLAR album. While they’re not exactly swinging for the mainstream, the guys know how to utilize a hook in any setting.