Sound — 9
"Chinese Fountain" sounds like the perfect combination of mellow vintage sounding indie rock with a slightly theatrical finish to compliment the great track listing on The Growlers most dynamic album to date. It brings a great blend a heavy hitting bass lines, with melodic choruses highlighting Brooks Neilson's fantastically controlled vocals. They have a certain familiarity to them, which makes almost any song instantaneously enjoyable. Certain songs incorporate key changes that work within a chorus or verse, that makes for a very interesting listen to certain tracks like "Good Advice" or "Not The Man." Other songs have a very solid structure to the song, along with fantastic lyrics that make for songs with high repeat value.
Lyrics — 8
Brooks Neilson's lyrics for all the songs on "Chinese Fountain" are incredibly vivid and effective as far as being memorable. Songs like "Chinese Fountain" touch on our evolving as a society, and how there is no other possibility but to be creative, "We are the miners of another generation, hills scraped dry with no choice but being creative." The first two songs "Big Toe" and "Black Memories" deal with being in a relationship with someone who's cold, and then the feeling of missing someone who caused black memories for him. There is a theme throughout the album of loss, and that is summed up thoroughly in my favourite song, "Goin Gets Tuff." This song touches on the bands coping with the loss of one of their friends when their studio burned down, "Still always remembering when the going gets tuff, that the labor of our love, will reward us soon enough." The lyrics are really great in all the right ways, and almost comical on certain songs like "Love Test" and "Big Toe."
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is one of the best indie rock albums I've heard in a while. I will be reviewing their next album, "City Club" as well but I do think this was a superior album. The diversity in sound from song to song, but staying completely true to The Growlers sound is wonderful. The band knew what they wanted the album to convey as a whole, and it does so beautifully. It sets up the hurt feelings in the beginning, and the introspective thinking of relationships and society as a whole - then leading into the inevitable heartbreak which will happen, in this case it was through The Growlers' studio burning down. There is a very positive outlook on it though, and they reflect on the situation as being a reason to grow and be good. The last few songs, "Not the Man" and "Rare Hearts" are two particular favourites, which tackles Brooks insecurities about what others think of him and the ladder is simply a great, great love song. Terrific.