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CD of The Week

Week of 11/07/16

    The Growlers - City Club (Cult)

    On their sixth album, The Growlers still bring the heat - but, this time with a disco kick and a polished sheen. Already ten years in, they show no signs of slowing. They've dipped their signature breezy sensuality into the dark shadows and neon lights of nightlife on their latest album, City Club. Co-produced by Julian Casablancas and released on his label Cult Records, City Club finds The Growlers maturing and digging deeper into the multi-genre sway they've dubbed "beach goth."

    With a bit of a shimmy and a full-on shake, the first chunk of the album is all about the booming bass line. The Growlers use a big, pulsing beat to keep the collection flowing and connected. Starting off strong on "City Club" and blasting strongest on "I'll Be Around," the disco intensity stretches through "Rubber & Bone." An atmosphere resembling the dark side of nights out steams from fuzzy guitar tones, syncopated percussion, whirring synths and bass lines that barrels straight forward. "Night Ride" encapsulates that world in little details with a sing-a-long chorus and post-chorus refrain that slowly trod through a synth twinkle. It's inviting, intimate, and familiar in a way that is easy to sink right down into, providing the ideal escape from the toxicity it describes.

    As the album progresses, many of the signature aspects of The Growlers return to prominence. Brooks Nielsen's recognizable voice reigns supreme as always, coloring the tracks with a smooth tenor. More than ever, they have proven they know how to craft a massive chorus and simply irritable riffs. "When You Were Made" is a melodic drifter that takes hints of the newer additions and matches them perfectly with the group's sound essentials right at the blossoming chorus. Songs like "The Daisy Chain" use complex guitars in a myriad of textures in balance with a hint of keys that highlights the tracks bright side. Connected tightly as a group of musicians, it is clear that this album contains some of the most advanced and creative songwriting the group has ever released.

    The Growlers are flowing through a gradual evolution that has allowed them to tour almost constantly for the last 10 years. City Club is the rightful next sultry chapter in their haze-coated story. It doesn't slow down their party but rather maintains it as the songs look deeper into the characters that comprise it. While the album loses some of the cheeky playfulness of Chinese Fountain that garnered the band so many new fans, it pipes in thickly, layered danceable synths in its place and never succumbs to the gimmickry of a stylistic switch.
    Review by Shana Hartzel

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