Crime in Stereo are fighting to grow out of hardcore. On 2007's Is Dead, the Long Island act cranked out so many pristinely angular textures, it's baffling to think that they're still stuck playing alongside bad, boring local hardcore bands. These days, their sound falls into the "post" genres (post-punk, post-hardcore, post-rock) more than anything else.
I get the feeling they'd kill to gain recognition past the glass confines of the underground, and their fourth record gives credence to that idea. Never mind the clunky title — I Was Trying is a precise, sparsely arranged experience of taut musicianship and razor-wired fuzz. Its melodies remain well-choreographed, even with the unpredictable song structures. Although it's not a particularly easy listen, highlights are plentiful.
"Drugwolf" offers an exuberant chorus ("Open up your mouth/And sing it out") that sounds like the world's biggest soccer chant — even though the lyrical content takes aim at cops. The skittering "Young" jumps from distraught dirge to earnest love letter and then to the soundtrack to a hectic prison escape. There are missteps — "Odalisque" is drawn-out melodrama — but also peaks, like the poignant "I Am Everything I Am Not." I Was Trying doesn't top Is Dead, but it does keep Crime in Stereo on track toward the strange and unfamiliar. That might be the best compliment of all.