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Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene’s “City of Love”

The 2010s have been an era rife with throwbacks in rock music, but while Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene’s “City of Love” has a neo-noir characteristic that might lead some journalists to lump the Colorado crew in with the retro revivalist culture, I think their style is just a bit more complex than that. “City of Love,” just like the album it takes its name from, mixes together past and present influences alike while skewing basic, black and white beats with a stutter-step guitar part and supple vocal harmonies, which is a blueprint I don’t believe I’ve heard of any other band using in 2019.

I fell in love with the bassline right from the moment that I heard this single for the first time, and once you’ve zeroed-in on its intricacies, I think you’re going to understand why I did. The bass is an agent of seduction in “City of Love;” while the guitar and vocal parts hammer away at us in front, it creates an ominous wall of sound in the background that eventually envelops everything here in a warm, vinyl-esque depth of tonality. It’s the backbone of the song, and an integral element of its appeal.

The instrumental end of this single is really amazing, but in terms of what gets me excited in “City of Love,” it’s the relationship that The Crime Scene has with Kerry Pastine. Here, there is nothing to come between her velvety harmonies and the occasionally meandering melodies that the guitar and bass angrily punch out, and we’re not only given a front-row seat to the ensuing sonic violence, but we’re actually invited to engage with it. “City of Love” is danceable, but even stranger yet, it possesses a number of channels through which it conveys deep emotional statements that one wouldn’t expect to hear coming from a contemporary rock group.

As fun as all of the different components of this composition are, there’s simply no getting around what the real feature is here – the one and only Kerry Pastine. Pastine proves herself to be the undisputed boss of this outfit in “City of Love” not by forcing an aggressive verse down our throats, but by gentling caressing an approachable vocal melody that turns icy-cold on us without warning, as though she were referencing the very nature of love itself with nothing more than the natural timbre of her voice.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a lot of really awesome music this December, but I would be lying if I said that Kerry Pastine & The Crime Scene’s “City of Love” didn’t stand out as one of the best of the bunch. They’ve got a sound that is all their own, and if this latest release manages to get just a sliver more attention than their first couple of albums did, I think that they’ll have a good shot at attaining some of the fame and fortune that has eluded their Rocky Mountain rivals for more than a few decades now. Either way, this is a solid release through and through.

Mindy McCall

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