There really is no way to describe The Growlers sound in one word, often times I like throw out rock, surf, pop, country, but all in all it really is beach goth hillbilly surf rock. Whatever sound The Growlers have, it seems to be working for them and with stellar results.
The Growlers like to work fast, just go into the studio and make a record. In 2013 the band released their third studio album Hung at Heart followed closely by Gilded Pleasure EP and now just over a year, release their latest efforts Chinese Fountain. The results this time around are a mature and polished sound, thinking quality over quantity. With only 11 songs in 38 minutes, Brooks Neilson croons with bitter sweetness, accompanied by more philosophical lyrics on love and loss, and a critical eye towards the word.
Title track Chinese Fountain, perhaps the most critical look towards the world, with lyrics “ every kid wants a computer in their pocket, the internet is bigger than Jesus and John Lennon and nobody wants to know where we`re heading“ spitting out the harsh truth about today’s society. However, the delivery of the song is a catch 22, with the funky and groovy track calling upon disco guitar riffs echoing in the background, the blunt and spot on critique of today`s self-centred and aloof culture is a bit easier to swallow.
The lyrics throughout the entire album dwell in misery, loss, and unrequited love, a darkness that covers their entire sound and that is exactly how The Growlers like it. Heartbreak, it seems, is something that frontman and lyricist Neilson knows all too well, with lines as “where are you going? Come back with my heart” being the eloquently bitter chorus for “Black Memories.” The yearning for a love that is now absent seems to be a common theme within their music, crooning about cold hearted women, heart theft and of course heartbreak.
Loss is something that The Growlers seem to be all too familiar with, with most songs laced with a yearning and sometimes unrequited love. However, loss isn`t solely tied to the end of a love, but also to the end of a point in one`s life. With the loss of their studio/home last year, the do it yourself, pull together and get shit done attitude which has always been instilled in their sound shines in When the Going Gets Tough. However, the feel and over all vibe of the song isn’t about lamenting in the pass and feeling sorry for yourself, but more about accepting the occurrences and events in one’s life, with the reggae guitar calling back to their surf rock roots and lyrics “when the going gets tough, the labour of love will reward us soon enough” brings slight optimism to otherwise miserable brooding The Growlers sing about all too well.
Though there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is slight optimism and contentment that can be known and heard within their work. Magnificent Sadness contains perhaps the strongest three minutes and 34 seconds of music The Growlers have ever produced with the last minute being a full blown bass and string extravaganza. Within this song, the musical and lyrical talent within the group shines, with a slow and melodic build up leading to the explosive finally, with a bass driven sound and echoing organs. “Magnificent Sadness” takes the best of what made songs such as “One Million Lovers” and “Burden of the Captain” stand out tracks from 2013’s Hung at Heart.
Although the themes within the songs are generally fall into the same subject matter of loss, love, heartbreak etc. Chinese Fountain is a matured outlook and acceptance and a critical eye on what is going on within our times. After just over 12 months to produce and record, one could say The Growlers don’t procrastinate but work well under pressure.
Make sure to check out tracks Magnificent Sadness, Black Memories, and Chinese Fountain.
Click here for our interview with The Growlers.
Review by Jennifer Carson |