By August Edwards
Chaos connoisseurs Crushed!? have ascended to a higher plane of excellence with their forthcoming album, Despedazándose. We have a single off the album, “Molting,” streaming right now! The full album will be released on February 1st, 2021, but today Albuquerque Green Room is here with an early review.
Like the word molting connotes, Crushed!? underwent significant transformation. Despedazándose is a triumphant dance party and celebration of emotion, which required shrewd group effort; and, through religious mayhem, they’ve paved their way to a sort of freedom.
Vocalist Joel Sheets and guitarist Adam Smith are founding members of Crushed!?. In the ten years since the band’s inception, the two had to learn how to be collaborative creators, which is usually easier said than done. The decade brought times where the band had to “pick up the pieces,” as Smith put it. And then “more and more it just felt better as we got to the lineup we have now. We’re in a good spot now, and I don’t think we’ll be planning to stop anytime soon,” he said.
Smith explains what went into Despedazándose: “Just writing it was like pulling teeth. We had a lot of obstacles that we had to overcome. Breakups, changing houses, theft. With this album, everything was against us, it felt like. Compared to the other releases, we just had to work our asses off. I think we put a lot more heart and soul into it, as a result.”
Drummer Greg Silva said, “In this album, everyone wrote something. Compared to past releases, it’s been a bigger collaboration.” Silva is an insane force of groove and pop and maybe he found a lot of invigoration from the synergy. Each member of the band was able to have their voice and personal stamp on this album in more ways than their delegated instrument—it is clear upon first listen, as it is found in the momentum of each track.
Despedazándose is bursting with rage, aggression, and determination. Nik Vasko on bass is versatile and an energetic undercurrent to guitarists Jake Snider and Adam Smith. The guitars are somewhat of a daunting duo—they create music as if they are destroying. Hardcore, emo-inspired, and math rock can all be used to describe Crushed!?—but, they are punk, they are angry, and they are laying out real feelings and making it seem like a fearless act.
Sheets has found his stride when it comes to vocal control and rip-roaring confidence. Such is the DIY attitude, which totally comes from necessity. Sheets really takes the reins on the roaring “Wildfires,” screaming the following: “Nothing left but blood / Nothing left, you’re all alone”—he delivers the lyrics as if he’s carving them into skin.
While “Snek” swelters in anger, “Time and Clarity” is agonizingly heartbreaking. Tracks like “Into the Furnace,” “Bailar,” and “Contra” will make you want to move your body in weird ways. Janky melodies and pulsing rhythms are at home with Crushed!?
It’s the emotion poured into this album that makes it relatable, both instrumentally and lyrically. And it’s the soft moments that prove Crushed!? has found finesse. The beginning bass feature of “Scrunch” also includes rainfall in the background, which creates a placid moment before the torrent that inevitably comes.
The closing two tracks show incredible refinement and appeal. “Last Train Home” comes as a soft release of all the anger that’s been built up so far. As the “ballad” piece, it drives home the pain that a journey can bring. Sheets sings, “I’m so ashamed to be wounded / So I refuse to heal.” Coming in last after the ballad, “A Trip to the Moon” shows resilience and grittiness. These are the lifeforces of Crushed!?—creativity, communication, and surprise.
When asked if he saw Crushed!? ever coming this far, Smith responded, “Back in the day, yeah. I saw us touring and really getting somewhere, continuing to make music. I did not know the journey that would come with that, though. It’s actually completely different from what I expected, but I did see us sticking with it.” In some ways, Despedazándose is the nascent album of a new Crushed!?. With this album, the band achieved shared emotional release through polished songs. They don’t waver—they are a force of nature.