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††† - Crosses album art[11th February 2014]
[Sumerian Records]

01. This Is a Trick
02. Telepathy
03. Bitches Brew
04. Thholyghst
05. Trophy
06. The Epilogue
07. Bermuda Locket
08. Frontiers
09. Nineteen Ninety Four
10. Option
11. Nineteen Eighty Seven
12. Blk Stallion
13. Cross
14. Prurient
15. Death Bell

Chino Moreno clearly loves his extra-curricular activities. With a list of guest appearances as long as your arm under his belt, ††† is now his third side-project (after Team Sleep and Palms)to release a full album. Perhaps these additional outlets are part of the reason why Deftones are still exciting and relevant today, and haven’t descended into a lacklustre caricature of themselves, like so many of their mid-nineties peers.

However, long-time Chino-watchers are likely to feel just a little short changed by Crosses as an album, as virtually two thirds of the tracks have previously been released on their 2011 and 2012 EPs. So, in effect, what we have here is a third EP that happens to be bundled with the preceding two.

Additionally, existing fans may find Crosses slightly disorienting, as the band has chosen to shuffle the running order, drawing tracks one at a time from each of the three EPs of material in turn, so tracks old and new are intermingled. This is a minor point, and one that can be overcome fairly swiftly, but it is an odd choice nevertheless.

But all of this is academic for those who didn’t pick up the EPs first time round. For them, Crosses is a bubbly, upbeat slice of mature pop, built around an electronica framework, but retaining certain organic qualities. This organic feel is helped along considerably by the periodic inclusion of live drums, provided by ††† member Shaun Lopez’s bandmate in Far, Chris Robyn.

It carries a similar vibe to the quieter moments of NK‘s excellent Nothing To Be Gained Here from 2013, and the influence of the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack are also apparent, as well as lashings of the taut, snappy 80s electropop for which Chino has made no secret of his passion.

The mood of Crosses is definitely a positive one, almost to the point of dreamy euphoria in places, like the ridiculously infectious chorus of “Telepathy” or “The Epilogue“, which sits in the middle of the tracklist despite being an obvious choice to close the album.

However, it is curious to note that Crosses falls into the same trap as Palms’ underwhelming debut, in that it rarely gives the listener opportunity to forget that Chino is in the band. The man’s distinctive tones are a near-constant inclusion in the mix, so there’s little scope for letting the instrumentation breathe.

But that being said, Chino’s breathy vocals and singularly recognisable approach to melody is a much better fit with ††† than with Palms, so the album feels much more cohesive than his late addition to the post-Isis outfit.

Crosses is a chilled out, delicate and beautiful piece of work; ideal for winding down at the end of a long day, or a hectic night out. It is definitely more background music than an immersive and involving album, but sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered.

Any complaints, particularly the relative paucity of genuinely new material, or disappointment that the new tracks also contain the weakest of the album, are relatively minor in the context of how the album is best enjoyed. ††† are a more than worthy successor to Team Sleep, an ideal outlet for Chino’s more contemplative side and a thoroughly pleasant, soothing way to spend an hour or so. Mission accomplished.