While Madeline Dowd's visual artwork playfully relays adult themes through childlike imagery, her band Crisman swaps the acrylics and spray paint for hazily-filtered vocals gently layered over slowcore arrangements to find yet another medium for masking emotional turmoil with innocence.
In 2011, Dowd left her hometown of Alpharetta, Georgia for Denton, Texas, where she met Dead Sullivan frontperson Boone Patrello. Their chemistry led to 2018's Crisman Tape, which Gold Flake Paint called “a hidden and unhurried gem in the current DIY scene.” For the band's self-titled debut studio album, Dowd and Patrello teamed up with another fellow Denton musician in MAH KEE OH's Grahm Robinson. Contrasted against the childlike playfulness of Dowd's paintings, the band's collective experience is refracted throughout the measured ten-song collection.
The melancholic and sinuous lead single "Surprise" pulls from childhood memories of wanting to be included and feeling misunderstood in order to lend its start-stop riffs an emotional touchstone. On “Cya,” the band employs acerbic distortion and twinkling arpeggios to explore the immaturity and inevitability of trying to forget a person or feeling that lingers far too long, where final single "Icee Blue" is about experiencing the infectiousness of a romance, a thematic reproduction of the song's infectious composition.
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A beautiful mood throughout [...] a hidden and unhurried gem in the current DIY scene
-Gold Flake Paint
We may very well see Crisman become one of this decade’s most sought-after indie darlings.
[...] a sound that speaks of surrealist nostalgia against the background of the quiet rapture of reality.
[...] atmospheric and translucent, with jutting riffs that prevent it from becoming shapeless.
Sometimes lazily languid and others perky and upbeat, the band use sound like Dowd uses colour, ostensibly bright compositions with an inconspicuous complexity.
-Various Small Flames