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Lupen Crook - Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 16 / 6 / 2006

Lupen Crook - Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Hauntingly distinctive and theatrical art rock on debut album from Chatham-based singer-songwriter, Lupen Crook

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of this album since I first heard ‘Lucky 6’ last year, the lead track from Lupen Crook’s debut release, 'Petals Fresh From Road Kill'. The 23 year old singer-songwriter has a sound completely of his own, and releases since the first EP, singles 'Halloween' and 'Love 80', proved that Lupen could make a song totally different from anything else he’s done while still giving it his own recognisable sound. His debut album, 'Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping', continues this trend and takes it further. Opening track, ‘6=8…the Remainder of a Formula Self’, begins softly,with just a solo guitar and Lupen’s gentle vocal. The song is very similar to those found on ‘Petals…’, that is until around 1:25 in, when Crook’s full band sound is revealed, complete with an organ and horn section. This quick burst of aggression is over all-too-soon, and the album switches quickly to second track, the amazing ‘Here 2 B Friends’. The song is an almost theatrical ballad with Lupen Crook accompanied on his guitar by a beautiful string section. In the chorus, the song jerks into violent bursts of sound as the singer seems to lament his own failings; "Meanwhile I’ve been thinking, a bit of a bastard when I’m drinking". Single ‘Love 80’ follows, with Crook’s quirky take on art-rock. ‘The Great Fear’ has a driving, bouncy rhythm and a catchy chorus, all put to something like a traditional folk sound, but twisted wonderfully into something completely original. One of the surprises for me on the album was ‘The Dead Relative’. While the title is typical for one of Crook’s works, the song is very upbeat and fun, with wind-instruments giving a real sense of jollity. The best part of this song, for me, is the conclusion, where Lupen is joined by a chorus or singers to announce to someone unknown “you are the light of my life”. ‘Wendy’s House’ has something of a jazz feel to it, and shows more of the theatrical element of Lupen Crook’s music; the song sounds at times very much like something that might be found in Tim Burton’s 'Corpse Bride'. Which is a good thing, of course. ‘Daughter’s Day’ flitters between sounding mildly threatening and quite sweet (although I think threatening might come out on top). This song is one of the points on the album where Crook’s twisted-folk style mixes with rock, another being the next track, ‘Knives ‘n’ Pliers’, which is also one of the angriest songs on the album: “fork his tongue with this blade and remove his front teeth”. It’s also one of the most accessible songs on the album, as it sounds much more like a straight rock track than any of the others. Again, the concluding part of this song is probably the best, if only for the harmony of the vocals. ‘Better Left for the Poorer Right’ is another of the more accessible straight-rock tracks; I can imagine it doing quite well in the charts if it were released as a single (even with the organ freak-out in the middle). This is followed by the only track from the ‘Petals…’ EP to have been re-recorded for the album, ‘Matilda V’. On the original version, the song featrued just Crook alone on his acoustic twelve-string guitar. For the album version, the full-band are used, and to great effect. In its fully realised state, the song is much, much better. Of particular note is the fantastic bass-line, which climbs up and down the scale and adds a whole dimension of its own to the song. ‘The Spastic Society’ feeds on Crook’s home-turf of the Medway Towns, with the chorus “It’s the day that they hang Billy Childish”. The track itself is a very creepy sounding piece of dramatic folk with an um-pa rhythm, possibly adding to the unsettling, but ultimately wonderful, feeling of the song. ‘Shark Fight’ is, in my opinion, the weakest of the songs on ‘Accidents..,’ which is not to say it isn’t a good track. It has moments that are particularly good, the bridge section for example, but it doesn’t have the same sense of excitement that the other tracks give me. I can imagine that if I’d only heard this song by Lupen Crook, I might not be particularly interested in looking up his other stuff (and more fool me, if that were the case). One of my favourites on the album is ‘Indigenous Syringes and a Silver Boot…for Sam’. The song sounds almost like something from the 'Cold Mountain' soundtrack, a wonderful piece of Americana, complete with fiddles and fantastic harmonised vocals, which opens up into a full honky-tonk style country tune, with a piano part straight out of a Wild West bar. Even at 13 tracks in, Crook manages to surprise. ‘Soviet Bones’ takes us back to a more familiar Lupen Crook style; a quiet, dark and thoughtful piece of music. Again, the fact that the music has now been opened up into a fully realised composition with strings, rhythm instruments and a beautiful building horn section at the end mean that the track has great depth and atmosphere. Crook’s voice also, on this track and through-out the album, is full of sincerity; every word he sings sounds believable, even if you have no idea what he means. ‘Black Candles’ is in a similar vain to ‘Soviet Bones’, a track very similar to those found on previous Crook releases completed with a full band. This song’s chorus is one of the most beautiful sounding parts of the record, and the organ-lead bridge section is fantastically uplifting. The song builds and builds in the last minute; a concord of strings, guitar and rhythm section, which slinks back down in the last few seconds for a gentle, upbeat finale from Lupen Crook and his guitar. You will almost certainly have noticed that I have made no effort to try and explain the meanings behind any of these songs, and the simple reason for this is that I have no idea, and any thoughts I have on them are completely my own interpretation, and probably completely wrong as well. I think the point with these songs is to find your own meaning from them, or just simply to enjoy them for what they are: brilliant songs. If you’re looking for a clearer description of Lupen Crook’s sound, you won’t get one from me either; it would be like trying to describe colour to a man who’s never been able to see. There is nothing else quite like Lupen Crook, but if I had to try and make a comparison, the closest I could think of would be Tom Waits. Not vocally, you understand, although Lupen has a very unique and recognisable voice, but in the fact that they both take a variety of genres and make them their own, with a quirky, theatrical and distinctive sound. ‘Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping’ was well worth my anticipation, and well worth the money you should spend on it as soon as it is released. Considering that this is only his first album, Lupen Crook still has plenty of time to develop further musically, and I already can’t wait until he’s ready to release another record.

Track Listing:-
1 6 = 8 ... The Remainder of a Formula Self
2 Here 2 B Friends
3 Love 80
4 The Great Fear
5 The Dead Relative
6 Wendy's House
7 Daughter's Day
8 Knives and Pliers
9 Better Left (for the Poorer Right)
10 Matilda V
11 The Spastic Society
12 Shark Fight
13 Indigenous Syringes (And a Silver Boot for Sam)
14 Soviet Bones
15 Black Candles

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Interview (2006)
Lupen Crook - Interview
Chatham-based singer-songwriter Lupen Crook has been attracting increasing interest from the music press. With his debut album 'Accident Occurs Whilst Sleeping' just out, he speaks to Jamie Rowland abouts its recording

live reviews

Spitz, London, 20/9/2006
Lupen Crook - Spitz, London, 20/9/2006
One of the most exciting new acts in the UK, Jamie Rowland watches Lupen Crook and his band the Murderbirds play an electric-sounding set as part of the Spitz's Festival of Folk in London
Social, London, 7/5/2005



British Folk Tales (2012)
Engaging, but deliberately uncomfortable fifth album from Chatham-based singer-songwriter, Lupen Crook
The Pros and Cons of Eating Out (2010)
Love 80 (2006)
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