Photo Credit: Haris Nukem
Creeper was formed in Southampton, England in 2014. From the beginning, Creeper created a type of rock that could be, and is occasionally, described as horror punk. Now, for me, if you aren’t from Lodi and you don’t have a one-rep max over 250 on the bench, you aren’t a horror punk band and Creeper can check neither box. If I were to be asked, I would describe Creeper more as theatrical goth-pop, and American Noir, the outfit’s sixth EP, fits that bill exactly. American Noir is a short, strange trip.
In another piece I wrote “imagine Bruce Springsteen moved to London in 1976, befriended The Damned, and started dressing funny and reading Rimbaud,” and that is both completely accurate and stylishly written. American Noir continues the tale of the newly-dead Roe and his love Annabelle that was begun on Creeper’s previous full length, 2020’s Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void. This EP is a concept project in every possible sense.
This recording is extremely flamboyant and, in a strange way, extremely ’70s-ish. What exactly do I mean by this? Every song and skit (yes, there are several, dramatic, odd, skits) on this EP sounds like it was meant to be played on an 8-track in your Chevy Nova on the way to catch a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And there is a good reason for this bell-bottom sound. The band has discussed in interviews their admiration for Bat Out of Hell, the preeminent album of the ’70s, and this EP is influenced obviously and heavily by Jim Steinman and the work he did with Meatloaf.
This recording is heavy on drama, if not sense. The narrative of Roe and Annabelle that began on Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is kind of lost here but the EP makes up for it in sheer ruffle-shirted melodramatics. “Midnight Militia”, the opening spoken-word track, is gibberish but captivatingly so, it gets the listener’s attention for the next track, “Midnight”, and its sweeping Springsteen-in-a purple-cape overwrought sound is truly well worth the wait. “Ghosts over Cavalry” sounds like Queen doing an Evanescence song. “One of Us” takes the famous Ramones chorus and uses the phrase to evoke a far different vibe. This song is a sad but grandiose lament. The EP is just under 20-minutes of skull-shaped mints. Creeper has crafted a Hot Topic-flavored series of songs and skits that ponder love, death, and loneliness in Gothic America.
All in all, American Noir is a lush, over-ripe piece of aural candy. This EP’s favorite color is purple velveteen and it keeps telling its mom, “this is not a phase.” It sounds like absinthe mixed with ginger ale and I can heartily recommend it if you ever wished you could pair an ascot with your biker jacket. Listen languidly.