Album Review: “City Club” by The Growlers

The Growlers captured our hearts in 2013 when they released their debut single “One Million Lovers.” Once listeners had a taste of their fun jingles and lovesick lyrics, the band was forever ready to meet our needs. Past albums have conveyed charming themes of love, and whether it was from the impressively catchy “Humdrum Blues” or the soft surf-rock tune “Rare Hearts,” The Growlers have lived up to their “Beach Goth” sound with a hint of Shannon and the Clams. However, their recent release “City Club” shows a fresh side of the band that’s been influenced by new wave, incorporating instruments not usually heard in their previous work.

“City Club” is both intriguing and transformative with the variety of sounds heard throughout the album. The Growlers partnered with The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas to produce this retro-esque album that carries subtle influences from Casablancas’ own album “Is This It.” The introductory title track features samples of xylophones and synths, establishing the ambitious transition of the band. Although divergent in sound, Brooks Nielsen incorporates vocals like “I love her just the way she is, all of her flaws and frizz” to bring back his usual affectionate charm. “Vacant Lot” is the album’s most experimental track, consisting of electrifying guitar riffs and harsh synth beats resembling an 80s electro pop track, yet it sticks with the urban night charisma with distorted vocals.

The ongoing 80s-like sound is prominent throughout the album, yet the band throws in some familiar acoustic tracks to avoid a dull track list. Their nostalgic ride is filled with beachy sounds and loose dance tunes that pick us up from the overpowering synths. “I’ll Be Around” and “Night Ride” are some of the standouts of the album with sprinkles of disco pop and funk. Guitarist Kyle Straka and bassist Anthony Perry use these tracks to shine with prominent guitar solos and head-bopping bass patterns. “When You Were Made” is like 2014’s “Black Memories” but with a more toned-down Nielsen sitting on his porch on a rainy day crooning, “A life of love is a long time, when you know that it’s only one time.” His mix of precise guitar strokes and distorted lyrics balances out the exploratory side of this album with the lovable surf personality of The Growlers.

The Growlers explored a new style that seems overwhelming at first, but is pulled off well with a mixture of well-known sounds. Overall, the album sticks with its urban setting and lives up to the band’s lovable beach goth sound.

Rating: A-
Release Date: September 30, 2016

Image Courtesy of The Growlers

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