Crushed is Bre Morell. Born and raised in Texas, she was a staple of the indie and punk scene, frequently with camera on hand, and hosting her own college radio programs. Morell finally joined the fray in 2017, becoming the lead singer of dream pop misfits Temple of Angels. Despite it being her first band and eventually relocating to Los Angeles, Morell has soared in the spotlight, her sweeping vocals the perfect compliment to the band’s heavier inclinations, and each new release has brought broader acclaim.
Crushed is Shaun Durkan. Born and raised in California, and for many years the lead singer and guitarist of the critically acclaimed noise rock band Weekend. Durkan has more recently been working behind the scenes, working as a sought after producer and working with everyone from Tamaryn (Cranekiss), Young Prisms (Drifter) to Soft Kill (Canary Yellow). He has also been hosting a weekly radio program, playing everything he enjoys these days, including Temple of Angels. Morell noticed, reaching out to say how she used to play his band on her old radio show. The two connected and when they both found themselves in LA studios working on different projects at the beginning of 2022, plans were hatched to collaborate on something together. And Crushed began to take shape.
Crushed is so many things at once. Durkan, who produced all of the band’s debut “extra life” and crafted most of the instrumentation as well, admits that “there are close to 200 samples weaved in over the course of the [EP]” and is delighted in showing it. The EP is a clear love letter to 90s radio, as everything from Britpop stadium riffs to trip hop drum beats are used and reconfigured into the duo’s maximalist form of pop. At one moment lush, distortion smeared guitars are erupting everywhere like on opener “waterlily” , the next moment gorgeous and warm synths have taken center stage on “milksugar”. Morell’s vocals, freed from their usual coating of reverb and haze, serve as a guiding light, lending a touch of directness and casual grace that binds everything together as bright, sunny chords are layered and layered and layered again on top of each other, frequently cacophonous yet just as frequently gorgeous. That vocal choice by Morell took some convincing as she said “I kinda hate the sound of my own voice unless it's completely buried in reverb. Shaun really pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone…I think the songs are so much better for it.” Indeed, extra life may be one of the boldest things either of them has ever made. While both artists have never been afraid of pop melodies in their work, Crushed is an embrace of pop music with a capital “P”. And as madhouse as its creation may have been, extra life is some of the most imaginative and exciting pop of 2023. As Durkan said so well, “To me, [extra life] is true and pure - in a way I haven't felt about music in a really really long time.”