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Lucky Cricket: (Almost) No Line Goes Unnecessary

Album Review

 

What do you get when you fuse the simple, acoustic instrumentation of folk music with the in-your-face and aggressive lyricism of punk rock? You get folk punk (otherwise known as rogue folk), a genre of music tailor-made to allow individual, less experienced musicians to pick up a guitar, banjo, or mandolin and, no holds barred, convey the message they want to convey. 

Of the many small folk musicians that I could highlight in a piece of writing about the genre, I want to spotlight an album by a small artist I found recently who has quickly become one of my favorite folk-punk artists out there. 

Lucky Cricket (a 2023 album by the aptly named Cricket!) is, contrary to what the title may lead you to believe, not about a small insect coming across good fortune. Most of the songs are sad but incredibly moving, with messages ranging from “We need to stop romanticizing putting ourselves through suffering” to “I kinda… don’t like you. Please leave me alone.” And I loved almost every single song.

Cricket’s Theme is the album’s introductory song. As such, it’s not of note except that it’s meant to prepare you for what’s coming in the album. And it does so not with lyrics but with a one-minute-long kazoo solo with guitar backing between the sounds of crickets chirping. 

It’s a good way to introduce the artist and album, but there’s not much to write about Cricket’s Theme. It works well for what it is, but that’s all.

As much as I want to, I can’t spotlight every single song after Cricket’s Theme; that would be way too long of a review. What I will do, though, is go through a couple of my favorites, starting with Trust the Devil and its counterpart, Don’t Trust the Devil.

Trust the Devil is the first song after Cricket’s Theme. It starts the album proper off with a bang, being a quite moving song about how Cricket! doesn’t think himself worthy of much of anything. He expresses intense self-hatred and doubt, the whole song being a letter to himself in the second person. It’s not the song’s only idea (as is a trend for the artist’s music) but is what it most tries to communicate. 

Don’t Trust the Devil is the album’s finale, immediately contrasting its earlier companion in name. It has the same central idea as Trust the Devil, but the feelings presented are far more visceral. “So you can take your stupid pills / You can go die on your hill” are some incredibly striking lines in the track that show the creator’s aggressively hate-filled feelings towards himself.

I adore Lucky Cricket, but even I’m willing to admit that it’s not a perfect album. Although most of its tracks are incredibly meaningful and powerful songs, A Song for a Computer Programmer isn’t one of those. It’s not a particularly awful song, but almost half of its lyrics are directly taken from other folk-punk songs by other bands, and it doesn’t have anything new to say. It’s not exactly bad, but it doesn’t have much to offer compared to what I’ve seen Cricket! is able to create.

I’ve sung praises about other songs on this album, but 1-Up is my favorite of its tracks by a large margin. It’s a song about quite a few things, but all of them manage to connect back to death (or at least pain) in some way; nary a word in the track is without intent. 

My single favorite lines in the song are, So I’ll smash my fingers strumming at a breakneck speed / And I’ll play piano, fake some talent while they’re still healing / When my knuckles start to bleed out on the keys as I play more / I’ll think ‘Wow, I am so edgy, what an awesome metaphor!’’ The segment is quite clearly about humanity’s obsession with romanticizing suffering, something I see as an epidemic as well.

I wish I could talk about more songs in Lucky Cricket than I have—I haven’t even touched on Trebuchet, one of the tracks I adore most. Suffice it to say, though, that although it’s not a perfect album, it’s still quickly become a favorite of mine. 

Lucky Cricket is a clear case of upcoming, self-taught musical talent, and I’m going to pay close attention to what he makes going forward. I recommend you at least give it a listen; it’s not music for everyone, but those who like it will love it.

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