Crocodiles seem to have found their happy place. After two albums of dark and stormy Jesus & Mary Chain-worshipping scuzz-rock, the band — core duo Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell, rounded out by three new fulltime members — return with Endless Flowers, a surprisingly optimistic and bright effort. The album brims with chiming major-key melodies and bounding backbeats, largely eschewing the stoner-rock navel-gazing that occasionally weighed down their earlier records. Although they’re still mining rock record-collector standbys — the influences here skew more Spector than Spectrum — they’re worn lightly, with a distinct lack of self-conscious gravitas.
The best songs on Endless Flowers feel like grinning romps. There’s an infectious charm to the fuzz-laden, swaggering “Surfing Lucifers” and the punchy, paisley ’60s psychedelia and wonderfully twisted melody of the title track. Even the morbid-on-paper “Electric Death Song” can’t maintain a nihilistic pose for long — the barreling four-on-the-floor drums and tremolo-heavy guitar spasms sound reeling and giddy instead. The lyric, clearly meant for Welchez’s wife (and Dum Dum Girls frontwoman) Dee Dee, “If you were a daisy/ Thirsting for a fix/ I’d gladly be the dew,” perfectly summarizes the album’s naive, tender heart. Endless Flowers is powered by an an almost reckless enthusiasm and an abiding sweetness, turning what might have been another decent retro-garage rock record into something consistently fun — even lovable.