Airiel has been on a year long (give or take a few months) adventure to release their first full length in the form of four 4-song eps. Crackled is the final culmination of this set and shows the progress of Wrenn‘s writing throughout the project. Furthermore, Airiel has added some depth to the band by having this be a more collaborative project. The entire band, which includes Jeremy Wrenn, Cory Osborne, John Rungger, and newcomer Adam Thompson, collectively write the songs with this disc, while previous discs were primarily done solo by Wrenn. Although Wrenn remains the principle songwriter, the rest of the band wrote “Airtight Angels”, while they had input on Wrenn‘s 3 other tracks. Furthermore, Thompson added some depth to their shimmering sound with a second guitar. Although all these adjustments have been made, the band still sounds like Airiel, but Airiel at its best so far. Wrenn‘s vocals seem to be progressing in their strength while the intricacies of the band’s arrangements are improving.
Crackled begins with an in your face, tight track that is percussive and drowns in fuzzy layers of guitar. The chorus on this song is catchy and sports some cleaner guitar over the fuzz in the background. This is more of an idealized song than I have seen from Wrenn before. It is more blissful and happy with thoughts of an “angel” that he meets in the lofty heights of the sky. “Swimming Through Us” is a slow, shimmering song with great percussion and accents of light guitar over glassy effects. This song seems more patient than Wrenn‘s other compositions. The music seems to have taken on a life of its own and there is a sense of perfect timing in it. Lyrically, Wrenn writes about relationships once again and draws on images of space and the ocean, accenting the blanketing of guitars in the background.
“Where it Belongs” is the longest track on the disc, clocking in at about 8 minutes long. Ironically, this is also the song with the shortest lyrics on the whole disc. “I want to know how far it goes/I can see inside, it’s funny/We’re insatiable, we are.” The lyrics repeat over and over again throughout the song, but the music is so interesting and tight that the song never gets boring. Throughout this disc, I have noticed that the drums have been brought up in the mix and they are more aggressive, tight, and interesting than in the other three Winks and Kisses discs. Throughout the song, Airiel brings to the table quiet moments mixed with high volume shoegaze to make for a fabulous 8-minute song. “Shirley Temple Tidal Wave” is a more subdued track with a slight jazz feel to the bass that is washed in the sea of guitars. Also, Wrenn throws in some good “ah’s” to boot. I really like this track because of those classic, pop and Jazz influences you get when you really pay attention.
This is a strong conclusion to their Winks and Kisses Series. Airiel has delivered throughout the course of these 4 eps and I highly recommend them all. It would be a shame to say that Crackled could be divorced from its predecessors since it is a culmination of artistic energy over a long period of time. Start from the beginning and buy all four. You will not be disappointed.