Album: Howler – America Give Up
By Tom Ingham
America Give up
Rough Trade Records
3 and a half stars
Rarely does a band receive so much hype, for want of a better word (and notably from one source in particular), without actually releasing more than an EP’s worth of material. Well, now that we have one, Howler’s first proper album, America Give Up, what’s all the fuss about? Of course, we shouldn’t subject this album to anymore scrutiny than anything else, regardless of those obsessive flag wavers who shall remain un-named.
Front-man, Jordan Gatesmith, is unashamedly open in citing his musical influences and they’re certainly present for all to hear. Fuzzy walls of Spector-esque guitars, coupled with a rough and ready production, reminiscent of bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, really allow the no-frills music to take centre stage. Something that stands out is the band’s use of dynamics and texture which stops this record from just being half an hour of turn-up-to-10, fuzzy rock. The first track to be released ‘Back of Your Neck’ is a great example of this with the swirling backing vocals and the reverb clad lead guitar juxtaposing the angular and abrasive rhythm section.
What we’re getting from Howler isn’t a never before heard, original sounding album. What we’ve got is an album brimming with energy, a genuine piece of music, layered and packaged, creating tracks that stand up for themselves, in particular ‘Beach Sluts’, ‘America’ and ‘Back of Your Neck’. Howler seems to capture a mood lacking in recent times: unpretentious and to the point. They’re not trying to fool anyone, and for that I doff the proverbial.