With a name like The Growlers first time listeners could be forgiven for thinking latest LP ‘City Club’ is a snarling effort, but behold this release from the American band is more of a further exploration of quintessential thumping bass lines, slinky synths and charmingly distorted vocals. This is the collective’s fifth studio record, and although the follow up to 2014’s ‘Chinese Fountain’, it’s the first release for them on Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records.
Opener ‘City Club’ is funky and grooving as it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Aside from powerful and prominent bass lines, jangling guitars and an element of scuzz laced through singer Brooks Nielson’s vocal threaten a placid disco rock sound. Another highlight is the softer and more lingering ‘Night Ride’. As the title would suggest this is a track best listened to whilst cruising around downtown LA of an evening rather than on a lengthy commute home.
Although this record carries a swooning 70s sonic theme throughout, switches in the instrumental elements avoid it sounding too samey. ‘Dope On A Rope’ is a more intricate affair with gentle guitars and kaleidoscopic electronics, while the acoustic and synth led ‘When You Were Made’ could almost be pigeonholed as a ballad with Nielson crooning, “Don’t get too down on yourself/they were in love when you were made.”
Overall there is a distinct retro vibe to ‘City Club’. Most of the tracks possess a nostalgic groove which wouldn’t render them out of place in an episode of the enigmatic Twin Peaks. It’s definitely an older sound from the band that not so long ago released a single titled ‘Uncle Sam’s A Dick’ and despite the aforementioned lack of snarl, this record definitely has plenty of bite.
Words: Shannon Cotton
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