H&H // WORLD OF JOY – HOWLER
Originally published on Hooting & Howling
After 2012’s ‘America Give Up‘ and a wait all too long, Minneapolis outfit Howler are back with their sophomore release, and the difficult second album blues are certainly not showing here.
‘Al’s Corral‘, taking it’s name from a blue collar bar in the four piece’s hometown, instantly kicks the album into life, with a clear cut combination of garage riffs, sparkling guitar lines, and frontman Jordan Gatesmith’s notes of “I won’t say yes/but I might say maybe…they tell me I have to care/but I don’t wanna care” setting the tone for the whole album, all within a short sharp 2 minutes. Long enough to establish relief that the outfit haven’t gone American Jazz House on us, it’s a testament to the fact that they’ve already built up on the impressive ground of their debut with an effortless sense, even in the lyrics.
The lack of conformity continues with previous single ‘Don’t Wanna‘, showcasing yet more shimmering guitars and awash with reverb, alongside Gatesmith’s subtle witticisms. Meanwhile, ‘Drip‘ brings a welcome thunder to the affairs, with undertones of classic rock ‘n’ roll and an energetic frenzy of chants. It’s a swift second of madness to juxtapose the complexities of before, and reveals that Howler’s boisterous side is still very much there.
‘Yacht Boys’ is an instant standout, centered on yet more swirling, reverb-drenched guitars and brash vocals, it balances the elements that the oufit recklessly excel at, whilst the catchy surf -pop flair returns with ‘In The Red‘ and ‘Louise‘, marking themselves as 2014’s alternative to ‘Back Of Your Neck‘
Sliding into the second half of the LP is title track ‘World Of Joy’, conjuring up the chaos once more with a psychedelic, fuzzing bass, and more of that almost signature passiveness – “I don’t care/’cause I’m so dumb” – backed up by the relentless sounds of latest addition, drummer Rory MacMurdo. ‘Here’s The Itch That Creeps Through My Skull‘, however, is unlike any Howler track before, acting as their own shoegazey Smithsonion ballad in a way that’s surprisingly incredibly. The guitar intelligently weaves around Gatesmith’s only half-convincing confessions of “I don’t wanna be rich or famous no more“, and though the Marr influence is blinding – the riff would slide anywhere into his back catalogue – the outfit’s unique take proves it as one of the crowning moments of the album.
‘Indictment‘ returns for a last burst of sheer fun – cries of “yee-haw!” and everything expected in between – before ‘Aphorismic Wasteland Blues‘ brings it all to a close. Boasting a 50’s folk backing with sharp surf riffs against Gatesmith’s musings, it’s all recorded to tape to maximise the intended Dylan outlook – it’s a deceptively optimistic note to end on.
‘World Of Joy‘ may not see vast changes in any direction, but it’s undeniably an impressive second album from the four, and when blending distinct influences from Thin Lizzy to The Strokes without becoming a carbon comparable copy to either, it’s more than worthy of the wait.