Often the result is a winning yin-and-yang effect. Opening song ‘Ghost That Burned Your House Down’, for instance, is saved from the jaws of Wes Anderson-ish twee by a gently macabre rock edge. McLeod and Steel’s mutual interest in the blackly comic is also clear from the album’s lyrics: at their ‘Killer Party’, ‘everybody looks like they’ve killed someone’.
But there comes a point when too much turn-of-the-century brat-rock kills even the most determined of Flaming Lips-style good vibrations. At times the album’s two main reference points are just too different to unite harmoniously: ‘My Shovel’, for example, veers ludicrously between a gentle harmonising verse and a tongues-out trash-rock chorus.
If we’re going by the side-project rulebook, it’s safe to say that Steel and McLeod’s often exciting first strides as Cold Crows Dead have been well worth the effort: their rock-meets-chamber pop mash-up on ‘I Fear a New World’ is undeniably new. But if there’s more CCD material to come, the hope is that McLeod’s big, bolshy guitars will leave a little more room for the psychedelic pop of his meeker, xylophone-wielding friend. Buy this album here
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.