The release of “Still in Love with You” marked one-decade of Crane Technique’s existence, a solo band by Paul Wheatley. This one-man project was initially created during his packed schedule with We Shot the Moon, yet throughout the years, it has successfully released eight singles; that means at least one to two songs every two years. Even though the pace may look slow for an active musician, it still makes sense, especially after knowing that he does everything related to the production by himself.
An independent project somehow becomes the escape route for the band-based artist who wants to traverse a new world, and I see that Paul Wheatley has a similar motive. Contrary to his band that sticks to the acoustic-pop genre, he tries to push his capability by mingling several well-known musical varieties. As expected, it produces mixed results; some attain desirable outputs, while the others seem neither unique nor appealing.
Let’s break them down.
Dated in 2010, Crane Technique’s first song debut entitled “Darling, Say Goodbye” embraced the idea of elaborating rock and electronic music. Presenting the 2000s rock-pop as the main show, he injected the catchy electronic melody in the middle, giving the element of surprise to the listeners. Truthfully, that EDM hook piques my interest. It suddenly kicks in out of nowhere, fully boosts the ambiance before suddenly fading out in an elegant way. Raw and a bit radical, but absolutely worth highlighting.
But contrary to the expectation, some of his next compositions didn’t carry the same spirit, as it leaned more to electronic without grabbing the rock roots as tight. For instance, “The Ghost White” only reimplemented the rocky beats, enveloping it with the generic-electronic music patterns and countermelodies. Enticing still, but less powerful and more industrial – Paul probably wanted to attract a bigger market, but it only dulled the sharp characters he had shown before.
Nevertheless, things just started to get more interesting from there. Crane Technique switched sides again in the 2017 project, this time, adopting the 80s influences. Featuring The Modern Longing, Paul introduced the balanced fusion between modernity and baby-boomer vibes through his “Love U 4 It” and “Naked.” This was a brave and unexpectedly lovely turnover. He carried out the ideology of change once again and blew everyone’s mind with inventive ideas. While “Love U 4 It” carries a lighter beat and pure jollification, “Naked” gives a more romantic, appealing impression, making it a perfect contrast. Listening to both songs feels like having the two different ice cream flavors in a cone – one side with a light salty vanilla, while the other has an intense chocolate taste – truly an endearing experience.
Crane Technique apparently found its niche in the 80s scene after the Collabs. It was exemplified with the next works, “Just 4 2Nite.” This time, Paul literally fully-adopted the disco, embracing a typical merrymaking mood and shelving modern electronic influences with the eighties’ specific guitar strumming technique. Yet, Paul kept it authentic and tasty; he still garnished it with the big chunk of DIY electronic synths.
Another perfect rendition of coalescent genres can be found in his latest work, “Still in Love with You.” Rather than continuing the success from embedding the 80s pop, Paul once again strived to clash the contradictive musical styles, and his choices fell to rock-pop, electronics, and disco. This track is way richer; those three minutes, albeit keeping the generic pop forms, give some surprising small elements while maintaining everything in consonance harmonies.
Despite the continuous exploration of styles, there is one thing that always stagnant during the one-decade voyage: the romantic, love-oriented lyrics. Whether it is about first-sight- attraction or saddening breakup, Crane Technique has successfully carved the lyrics deep down in everyone’s mind. It also presents itself as an oasis in the middle of an uncertain, explorative desert.
Progressivity is something worth-doted in Paul’s journey. The keep-changing beats, layers, and (on several occasions) subgenres make me wonder what he will present on the table next. While Paul’s initial solo compositions are quite predictable due to his background, he dives more into the combination of electronic music and the 80s disco in later works before turning back to his OG root. I find his identity-seeking globe- trot enticing to follow.
But the progressive alteration, while giving the freedom to conduct the imaginative exploration in each track, has a significant drawback to the listener. The constant style-switching makes his songs lack trademarks, to the extent that we may misidentify him with someone else. Luckily, his consistent approach to the lyrics saves the day; the love theme enables everyone to, at least, recognize him.
Crane Technique becomes Paul Wheatley’s medium for liberating his adventurous mind and showcasing the long-untouched creativity. He has adequately brought new, fresh cuts to the game – catchy vibes of typical oldies, adorned with synth-based tunes. Put the superficial tracks aside; those works are a perfect alternative for indie enthusiasts out there or ones who want to reminisce about the 80s scenes.