As a member of Blanket Music, Chad Crouch has created a slew of memorable, sunny tunes that are perfect for springtime sing-alongs. As the founder and main person behind Hush Records, he's put out a consistent and varied catalogue of music (and was the original home for The Decemberists). If that weren't enough, Crouch is a talented artist that creates whimsical paintings of people and unique cityscapes that seem to pull out the similarities between different cities while making them stand out with subtle variation and unique choices of color.
Toothfairy is the newest musical project from Crouch and it's a foray into the laptop pop realm with a beat-driven album with loads of synth melodies, funky basslines and the light, almost cooing vocals of Crouch himself. One of the oddest things about the songs themselves are the lyrics of Crouch. Reverting to an almost purely adolescent point of view, he sings about getting kicked out of a band, wondering about friends hooking up with loose girls, first crushes, and foreign exchange students.
So yeah, once you get past the fact that the above words are being sung by a fellow who's about 30, the music itself is suitably playful. The album-opener "Kicked Out Of The Band" seems to refer to the past and possibly the present at the same time, and Crouch adds his warm croon to a piano and synth-laden track that snaps with a crisp beat and a servicable bass line. "Don't Sweat It" drops more piano into a swinging pop track that's one of the more hook-laden tracks on the entire release with punctuated live drum cracks and a super infectious bass. Lyrically, the track follows an awkward turn of events at a pep rally.
Although the vocals (which are pretty awkward at times, not simply because of their content) are one of the stumbling points on the album, the music itself is fairly simple and fluffy at most points as well. There are times where the disc locks into an inspired groove (as on the swerving funk of "HFYA" - Hot For You Always), it's not nearly as developed as other artists doing similar things (such as The Postal Service) or even Crouch's other band Blanket Music. With nine tracks that run just over thirty minutes in length, Formative is like cotton candy, overly sweet and decent while consuming it, but out-of-mind as soon as it's gone.