BY FRED MILLS
Here’s to youthful vim: On the second album by Minneapolis four-piece Howler, an energy level worthy of forebears the Replacements, Soul Asylum and even, in places, Husker Du is dialed up, making such tracks as the thrumming/thrashy “Indictment” and the hardcore-tilting “Drip” buzz around the listener’s head like so many hornets.
Here’s to youthful vigor: With a power pop genuflection factor worthy of the anthemic likes of Britain’s Only Ones, Rich Kids, Damned, etc., Howler dips further back, by another decade, into the so-called rich tapestry of rock. One spin of the manically-strummed, twangy-but-tart “In The Red,” or the blazingly woozy “World Of Joy” and you’ll understand that these musicians have done their homework. Hell, they even demonstrate their Nuggets savvy in a place or two, notably the echo-tastic psych/garage of “Don’t Wanna.” Don’t infer, however, that Howler’s sketching from blueprints; there’s sonic intuition at play here, “pure savvy” by any other estimation that fully justifies the NME-generated hype over Howler of a couple of years ago. That they are on the venerable Rough Trade only underscores the notion.
Here’s to youthful optimism, idealism and communalism: like all those classic malcontents before them, the lads of Howler have figured out that the best way to articulate the inarticulate spasms of passion, angst, serenity and outrage is via a righteous vocal roar and a chordal/rhythmic tumult. Life’s issues aren’t necessarily solved, nor are its respites (p)reserved for future generations. But damn—it sure feels great when you’re in the throes, both as creator (musician) and absorber (fan).
World of Joy ain’t just an album title. It’s a friggin’ manifesto.
DOWNLOAD: “Don’t Wanna,” “Louise,” “In The Red”