When Crookers called their album Tons of Friends, it was more than a brag; it was stone cold fact. The Italian house duo have obviously been busy socializing in the lengthy chasm between the release of their all conquering remix of Kid Cudi’s ‘Day and Night’ and the release of this guest-star rammed album. Featuring an array of big-name guests, from expected faces like Diplo & Switch (under the Major Lazer name) to slight surprises like Roisin Murphy and Tim Burgess. It seems however that sometimes less really is more, as Tons of Friends‘ vast array of guest artists do absolutely nothing to rescue a grating, irritating mess of an album.
Crookers are a true product of the blog age; low on quality but high on posturing, their debut album spends most of it’s time buzzing around with nothing to say. Whilst there are undeniably some finely honed tunes like the infectiously pop-laden ‘We Love Animals’ (produced with Soulwax and Mixhell) the vast majority of the album feels choked by low-standard efforts from low-rent, mouth breathing oxygen thieves. Involving some of hip-hop’s weakest elements was a truly awful choice; tracks like ‘Natural Born Hustler’ (featuring the truly reprehensible Pitbull) sound like mediocre backings from the cutting room floor of absolutely any generic rapper. It’s surprising how much Crooker’s glitchy, party-bass backings add to the ferocious urge to tear off Will.i.am’s head during the agonizingly irritating, stultifyingly mediocre commercial rap of ‘Get Beezy’. After almost a year of hearing the Black Eyed Pea’s ‘Boom Boom Pow’ leaking from every crevice of stupidity on earth, the last thing anyone needs is to hear this particularly mediocre rapper dropping flabby “boom boom’s” into another song.
Whether it’s the painfully artifical hip-hop of tracks like and or the tame, boil-in-the-bag dubstep that wobbles generically on the Kelis collaboration ‘No Security’, Crookers seem either incapable of or unwilling to recreate the giddy, crunked-up house that won them any sort of adulation in the first place. It’s not entirely cripplingly awful though, there are a few glimmers of hope; the sort of SNES dancehall crafted on Major Lazer collaboration ‘Jump Up’ has just enough frenetic energy to carry you away from the grim confines of Bot and Phra’s album – no surprise from Switch and Diplo to be honest.
Simply, Crookers shouldn’t need the likes of Switch and Diplo to rescue tracks; an album, obviously, should have the strength to carry itself. Sadly for Crookers, whilst they clearly do have tons of friends, they don’t know who to pick. From the posturing ‘attitude’ of Kelis to the ritalin hip-hop of Rye-Rye to the truly inexplicable presence of Tim Burgess, Crookers have buried a sub-par album in sub-par guest appearances; sacrificing their musical bread and butter for tasteless scraps from the big boy’s table.
Tons of Friends Is out now on Southern Fried Records, Check out the video for their biggest hit to date Day N’ Night ft Kid Cudi.