Sound — 9
Bam! 2012 arrived and you were like "Gimme some music sucker, nothing fancy but something with character". Almost a year ago now Howler released their debut album "America Give Up". With the album title itself seemingly catastrophically lame to the eyes of the pretentious, Howler probably drove off the people they didn't want listening to their pop-punk album and attracted the scummy people like you and me. The record logically opens with a catchy riff and a loud chorus, comprising of the two-guitarists having an "I can go louder" battle and making "Beach Sluts" the most important song for people listening to the album start to finish. As you listen through highlights include "Wailing (Making Out)" where Jordan snarls through the song ending with a chorus, "I'm so tired of making out" sounding raspy and wonderfully snide the lyrics and his delivery bring a small smile to the face of the listener and this so often tends to be a common occurrence, with words like, "I don't even give a sh-t anymore" in "Free Drunk" prove that Howler can right a slow pop song and still make you want to wear more leather, start smoking and break stuff. The lead-single "Back Of Your Neck" jumps in just after the midway point and the staggered intro takes you stumbling through a song executed so simply you wished you wrote it, with a 60's girl band-esque chorus the high-pitched "ooh oohs" break into the first verse with a simple war-march drum-beat that with the volume turned up leaves you holding your chest, wondering how many drum skins they broke recording it. Yet Howler don't want you to look too deep into their debut album, it will always remain a thrashy record with distorted guitars and pop song structures. But that doesn't mean it's not smarter and more well-written than the majority of music we hear that receives such acclaim for using undiscovered chord sequences or root-vegetables as instruments.
Lyrics — 8
"I Don't Even Try Anymore" are the first words that Jordan Gatemsith (Howler frontman) growls in the opening track of "America Give Up" and they truly set the tone for the rest of the album. I'm not saying it's lazy or "I can get signed to Rough-Trade if I want" self-gratification, it will never be a political statement and they won't be attempting to try and improve the world with music. It appears to be almost anti-everything. Throughout the album the lyrics "dig-at" society without being arrogant, and the band have lived enough to know exactly what they are doing. This is what truly makes you appreciate the song-writing talents of Gatemsith and co. They cut-out the falsities and bring wit wrapped in a Minnesotan grumble.
Overall Impression — 9
There is something about Howler that makes you want to spend time with them. They live with their music, love making-fun of the idiocy that is apparent all around us and they seem to have a whole load of fun. They've toured relentlessly in the US and UK pleasing the expanding fanbase that has grown in the last year and they seem to be establishing themselves as a great guitar band of the 21st century. With such a promising start, I'm excited to see what music spews from their brains in the next couple of years.