Crosses, or ††† if you prefer, really prefers foreplay to making love. The synthwave and electro-rock music duo made up of Deftones’ frontman Chino Moreno and Far producer/ multi-instrumentalist Shaun Lopez has been teasing us for over a year with singles, a top-tier cover, and pulse-quickening videos as they readied their new EP, Permanent.Radiant (Warner Music Group). Fit in and around Chino’s heavy schedule with Deftones and Shaun’s producing work, the new EP continues to build upon the path they laid out, minus former collaborator Chuck Doom, who has departed the project.
In a lot of ways, Crosses was years ahead of the curve in the current explosion of synthwave/synthpop music crossing over to rock fans. It’s less heavy in riffs, and more weighty in moods, but also in the time honored vamp from the blues, centrifuged down through the years and now arriving here, in the future and past all at once. The suspensful build is the thing with Crosses’ music, not the climax. The lead track “Sensation” has a laidback beat, cold synths, and breathy vocals from Chino. The wash of guitars is not so biting, but reminiscent of Chino’s guitar parts in his home band.
“Vivien,” with its burbling rhythm of staccato notes, 808 drum machine hi-hats emulating booty smacks, and cheek claps, melded with Chino’s sexy croon, opens up to an epic, climbing chorus. Memory makes you go back in time 15 years to the early Puscifer EPs and first album, but also influences from The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, early Killing Joke, Ministry, but also Prince and 1990s R&B tropes (for better or worse).
“Cadavre Exquis” is next and gives very Dreampop vibes and more great old-school drum samples. I can almost hear 1980s Madonna singing over this one, from one of her S-tier soundtrack albums. This is the best track on the entire EP.
The bonus track for the vinyl is “Day One,” and while I am unsure this will get a single release, it is surely a fun, left-field curve. The major key, smile inducing sunny day vibes, and Samba cadence will have you up and dancing with your shadow in your room. The track is a pleasant ray of happiness in an otherwise gloomy set, which is why it was likely made a bonus track.
“Holier” is more like it. Right back down with the sads. With a dreamy GTA-5 flavored bed for a track, that is beautiful as it is doleful. The final track on the all too short release is “Procession” and does indeed sound like the end credits music for long lost John Hughes movie, with last-name only stars. You will hum the thematic guitar solo of the song for weeks on end after you hear it.
Masters of intrigue, patient writing, and bedroom music, Crosses have realized their full creative vision on Permanent.Radiant. Also, sexy and spooky Chino Moreno is the best Chino Moreno possible.
Buy the EP here:
8 / 10