It still feels like new music, doesnÂ’t it? Each new record from The Growlers has something gripping enough that makes it as exciting as a debut. The Growlers swooned us back in 2013 with Â“One Million Lovers" and Gilded Pleasures, those Â“Humdrum BluesÂ” with Hung At Heart, and then, within the more recent couple of years, that magnificently depressing Â“Good AdviceÂ” on Chinese Fountain. WeÂ’ve been seeing The Growlers for a while now, and we know all their tricks: bashful love songs softly cradled by opiate-euphoria, kick-shit pub songs aggravated by rum and amphetamines, and, of course, how genuinely theyÂ’ve always related to the everyday man when the going gets tough. But something has been different with The Growlers lately. TheyÂ’ve been coming home later at night smelling like cheap perfume and whiskey with a slick new Members Only jacket, and theyÂ’re not caressing our needs as much anymore. At this point, they know how obsessed with them weÂ’ve become, and they donÂ’t feel obligated to fill our every need. Now, theyÂ’ve decided theyÂ’re going to do what they want to do. TheyÂ’re going to stay out and drink for however long they want. TheyÂ’re going to pick up new moods and scents even if you donÂ’t like them. TheyÂ’re going to flirt with something new if it fancies them, and theyÂ’re going to turn up their fuzz and synthesizers however fucking loudly they want.
You knew this when they came through the door a few weeks ago with Â“City ClubÂ” and realized who theyÂ’ve been hanging out with. Julian Casablancas of The Strokes produced the new album for the boys and have helped them out with a new, slick, New YorkÂ–esque style. Sounds off this record spawn in the hours of the late night, and there is a more cock-out attitude, distant from what weÂ’ve been used to since our affair began with The Growlers. But in the middle of all this late-night musk and confusion, they revive our faith with Â“When You Were MadeÂ” and let us know that that old sweetheart singing us those affectionate songs is still in there. It still makes us think: That sounded like my beloved Growlers, but everything else has changed. Is this just a phase? Moving through Â“Rubber & BoneÂ” and hopping over Â“The Daisy Chain,Â” we end up in Â“World Unglued,Â” and it starts to make sense. Here, these new moods and swings start to come together with those old favorite sentiments. ItÂ’s still our one, true love, The GrowlersÂ—they just need room to try on new garbs and taste new, dark subject matter. And with this, itÂ’s all right. We let them follow with venting about Â“another bar fight in a neon lightÂ” and Â“high-ass women who donÂ’t see meÂ” in Â“Neverending LineÂ”Â—all the shit theyÂ’ve had to put up with as a touring rock band.
After talking, tears and a few tall drinks, The Growlers drive us home with Â“Blood of a MuttÂ” and Â“Speed LivingÂ”Â—two tracks that remind us of that band we fell in love with back in high school that still satisfyingly cap the night with their cool, new swagger. This is definitely a record thatÂ’s going to challenge some of The GrowlersÂ’ wholehearted fans, but others will enjoy the new sleek style thatÂ’s brought on by late-night antics and a craving for danger that can only be settled by exploring new scenes and avenues.
Years ago when I first started watching The Growlers perform, The Couples recordings had just transitioned into their Are You In Or Out? LP. The first time I interviewed singer Brooks Nielsen, the boys were just experiencing their first of many national tours. Every time they returned home from their latest musical excursion, their local fans seemed to be exponentially multiplying.
Then came the birth of The Observatory concert venue rehabilitated from the remains of the fading Galaxy Theatre. From that modest first Beach Goth festival of only 15 local bands on the bill blossomed many more sold-out shows and three more Beach Goth festivals, each much bigger than the last. By 2013, the Growlers substantiated their musical collection with their release, Hung At Heart, which was followed by Gilded Pleasures late in the same year. By the time Chinese Fountain hit shelves in 2014, The Growlers had become ambassadors of the Orange County music scene with a fan-base so big that their back-to-back Valentine?s weekend shows of their 2016 tour quickly sold out in their local county.
With every move he made, Nielsen inspired a response from spectators, like a melodic ringleader backed by an artillery of best friends whom have now been around the world together in the name of music. Most times, a song would start and the entire room of bodies would become lost in the music, chanting along word for word while twisting in rhythmic motions. Every song, like ?Dull Boy,? carries a story of some sort, and people were stirred by the emotion that wafted from the speakers and out onto them, causing an equivalent reaction in audience members. .? It was obvious The Growlers were grateful, as depicted by Nielsen's wide grin as he bid his admirers goodnight with admiration. As we exited the venue, it seemed like the warm Santa Ana winds had started to swirl, as if the band had somehow incited a warm climate change during their set.