Crown Larks 2

“I don’t think anyone’s going to accuse this record or the next one of being simple production,” Jack Bouboushian said of Crown Larks.

Formed in 2012, the band (which also includes Lorraine Bailey, Bill Miller and Matt Puhr) has made a name for itself by bucking tradition and crafting a unique sound . Some band members such as Bailey have had classical training, and the challenge is, in the pop music setting, to push beyond those limitations.

The group has become t more structured since it launched. The members have found a balance between the composing of their pasts and the hard-hitting arrangements of their present. “On one hand, we are doing stuff more structured and rhythmically hard hitting and locked in, but it still has a bit of that mentality of keeping it chaotic and keeping that individual idiosyncrasy in there,” said Bouboushian.

Crown Larks operates between the margins of the city scenes. Chicago’s music is often defined by the genres in which bands and musicians operate. There are DIY punk house shows, and improv new music experiments and garage rock fallbacks. But Crown Larks doesn’t fit neatly into any sound, which makes its music that much more interesting.

“If we play in front of an audience that’s used to hearing improvised music, they’ll never think we’re an improv band,” Bouboushian said. “But when we play on a punk bill when it’s pretty structured stuff, then we feel like it’s a little looser.” The group works within its own parameters, ones that continue to set Crown Larks’ sound apart.

It’s a delicate balance between choreographed chaos and chaos, as well as making the choreographed chaos not sound overwrought and analytical. Thus far, Crown Larks hasn’t failed. Part of this balance plays out in the live shows, where structures and performance styles vary. It allows experimentation within a plan.

Crown Larks newest record, “Population,” comes out this week. Like past efforts, the group aimed to not make it sound “too polished” by injecting randomness after the fact, to smudge the clean lines of the compositions. Some parts of the record were also pieced together from disparate ideas. “I’m glad the songs come out of a collaborative and communal effort,” said Bouboushian. “It’s all about all of us feeling happy and it’s representative of a journey together.”

But the biggest change on the record is one that might not seem that crazy after all. If the previous record was very instrumental-focused, this latest sees the band opening up with more vocals and lyrics. “I’m getting more into lyric writing with this new record,” Bailey said.

The result is a record full of songs that sound radically different. Every song is its own sonic universe. “We’re kind of on this spectrum where we write rock songs that are long and don’t have normal structure to them, but we don’t fit in the improv song because we’re too structured for them, but they’re not like pop songs,” said Bouboushian. Bassist Puhr agreed, saying, “I think of it almost like non-music in a way, or outsider music, the way that outsider art exists.” For the average listener, this might be difficult to take in, but curious listeners with an ear for intelligent, engaging, experimental music will find much to enjoy.

Britt Julious

Chicago Tribune Article 2017