US band The Growler‘s latest album Gilded Pleasures takes a generous helping of classic American rock and shoves it in a blend of country and surf pop – sometimes awkwardly, sometimes perfectly.
There’s no escaping the fact that Gilded Pleasures is solidly held up by Brooks Nielson‘s gruff, textured vocals. The powerful enunciation bears resemblance to the delivery of Kings of Leon. Top this off with some unashamedly brash vocal effects, and the songs take flight, for the most part.
One almost gets the sense that each song is a retrospective of Nielson’s own life. Lyrics are sung with a wistful humour and evoke existential problems of growing up, as nuanced throughout “Change In Your Veins.” Others, such as the initially disturbing “Dogheart II” become an ironic commentary on a character’s life.
“Hiding Under Covers” launches immediately into an exotic sounding verse. Fully backed up by delicate instrumental melodies, it fuses all the elements cleverly with the vocal line. Other songs don’t quite make the connections though. The lacklustre “Tell It How It Is” flat lines with the singer’s relentless droning, which is echoed by the guitar. There’s no variety and little in the sodden lyrics that can compare in quality to the tracks it is sandwiched in-between.
The album does lack emotional variance – I’m not being taken on a journey, rather told a collection of camp fire tales that don’t always seem related. “Humdrum Blues” tries to take it up a notch; solid grooves and nostalgic melodies once again bring out the best in this album. Not so much with the bloated song “Ol Rat Face.” The creepy fairground vibe that permeates this track is only redeemed by its honest psychedelic influences.
Overall though, The Growlers have put together a decent collection of tracks, with some of the most original lyrics I’ve heard for a while. Nielson’s voice is a pleasure for the ear for the most part, whilst Hungry Kids of Hungary meets Tame Impala might go some way to describing their sound to an Australian audience.
You can grab a copy Gilded Pleasures from iTunes and Bandcamp, or listen to it on YouTube. The band also have a website with all the usual info, including embedded Spotify playlists of their earlier albums.
The Growlers are bringing their quirky rock sound to the east coast of Australia in March. You can warm yourself up to the songs from Gilded Pleasures and the group’s lengthy back catalogue on these dates:
Wednesday March 5 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday March 6 – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday March 7 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday March 8 – The Tote, Melbourne, VIC