Nearly five years since their last release, THE CLASSIC CRIME have resurfaced with a furious new album titled How to Be Human, a record so successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter that received three times its intended goal is set for an April 28th release via BC Music. The lyric video for the first single “Holy Water” can be seen over at the band’s website along with pre-order bundles. In addition, the track is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
That reverential and dedicated demand for new music from the Seattle-based rock quartet’s fan base is perhaps only matched by the band’s own burning desire to not just return, but also to re-invent themselves. “I’m not very good at being vulnerable with people, so writing songs is how I express what I’ve been protecting,” explains lead singer-songwriter Matt MacDonald. “A lot has happened. Some of us got married, had kids, started businesses, moved around. But when change happens, I tend to write it down,” he adds. “Holy Water” signals MacDonald and his bandmates’ successful attempt on How to Be Human at making music with organic artistic expansion while retaining the group’s identity along the way.
With the airtight drumming, buzzing upbeat bass, and MacDonald’s unique mix of smooth vocals and concise, kinetic delivery, “Holy Water” kicks off with some of the endearing traits that made the band familiar to the ears of fans that followed them from their 2003 beginnings all the way to 2012’s Phoenix (praised by Alternative Press for “arrangements are elegantly tuneful with an atmospheric sweep and production as crystal as the water in the Caribbean” and MacDonald’s “boyish tenor that’s keenly matched to the skygazing searcher full of questions evoked by the lyrics”). MacDonald explained the track’s poetic placement and standing as the album’s opening track saying, “its energy seems to embody the scope of the record" with “bars jumping between 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, and the lyrics move between micro and macro metaphors for feeling alive and connected to the universal dance of life.” As the song builds to the chorus, the band’s maturation shines through. The song opens up and shows the penchant for vast, swaying melodies carried by uplifting, anthemic instrumentation, establishing themes and reprisals that the entirety of How to Be Human explores more intimately.
The comprehensive re-imagining that MacDonald went through is thoroughly explored in the aptly-named How to Be Human, a 12-track indie-rock introspection and rumination on the human condition. The album contains commentary on both spiritual and secular reflections on life, and how the weight and depth of such grand reflections weigh on an individual. On “Different Shades of Green”, environmental nature is taken as a guide for finding a more natural peace within people rather than one taught or sermonized. There’s also perspective both warning of reckless wanting (as the song “Spare Time” offers lyrics like “If you're trying to dance alone in this life, then do it right. But if you're dying to live somewhere on the other side, there's no such thing as spare time”), as well as perspective on being a person who succumbs to that same insatiable material hunger as heard on “More.” Without condescension or sanctimony, MacDonald uses his platform as a microscope on the crash course in self-examination across seemingly every context, and as genuine enlightenment rather than self-important spotlight.
Even in their earlier, more pop-punk-leaning work, the band has had a knack for being dynamic and dense. Punknews heralded the band’s 2006 Albatross LP for its creativity: “unlike the bands they are influenced by, The Classic Crime manage to craft a mature album that is as smart as it is catchy.” Indie Vision Music hailed 2010’s Vagabonds, calling it (at time of review) “the best anthemic rock release of the year.”
With such a bare-all approach to storytelling and songwriting, The Classic Crime’s How to Be Human feels like catching up with an old friend who has been through a lot: reminiscent of who you remember, but with a noticeable growth in perspective and comfortable enough to tell you exactly everything on their mind. As “Holy Water” and the rest of the album convey, there’s so much to being human, and listeners will be hard-pressed to not feel within, with each listen.
How To Be Human Tour kicks off in late April and goes on through May. The dates, featuring openers Matt & Toby and CIVILIAN, are listed below. How to be Human will be available worldwide on April 28th.
The Classic Crime is Matt MacDonald (vocal & guitar), Robbie Negrin (guitar), Skip Erickson (drums), and Alan Clark (bass).
April 27 - Seattle, WA - Neumos*
May 04 - Nashville, TN - The End
May 05 - Cincinnati, OH - Mad Frog
May 06 - Columbus, OH - Steadfast Festival
May 07 - New York, NY - Blackthorn 51
May 09 - Hartford, CT - The Space
May 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Voltage Lounge
May 11 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
May 13 - Orlando, FL - The Abbey
May 14 - Miami, FL - Churchills
May 15 - Tampa, FL - Crowbar
May 17 - Atlanta, GA - Vinyl @ Centerstage