Despite its January release, the breezy Lo-fi sound of Howler’s debut rings with reminders that summer does actually exist, leaving you longing for the days where you won’t have to wear two jumpers and a pair of long johns alongside your normal attire just to be able to feel a comfortable outside. Although America Give Up is best suited to bus stop on rainy winter mornings, it’s exactly the kind of sound that’ll fit in well at festivals this summer.
The record really is exactly what you’d expect after listening to the EP Howler released last summer, a blast of lazy-yet-immediate guitar-driven indie-pop songs. Opener “Beach Sluts” sets the slacker-with-purpose tone perfectly, starting with a richly clean guitar line accompanied by some clap-along snare hits in a slow tempo, before it rushes into a mildly shambolic yet wildly catchy chord-jangling chorus.
The appropriately named “This One’s Different” is a standout track, driven forward by the constant pace of the drums and a range of interesting guitar riffs, however that this and another highlight track “Told You Once” both featured on the EP raises questions about how many ideas the band actually have.
Perhaps the albums best and most original moment comes from the slow-burner “Too much blood,” which offers up some nice melodic-yet-biting guitar tones and sits nicely in contrast to the faster songs on the album.
The number of immediately catchy songs on the record is plentiful, making the half hour run time fly by. There are some lingering doubts, however, as to whether some of the songs have enough substance beneath their immediate appeal to stand the test of time. Additionally, although the slur of vocalist Jordan Goldsmith at times fits well with the music, at others it comes across as too put-on and unnatural, making it slightly grating.
On the whole America Give Up is an enjoyable listen, however it doesn’t offer enough unique elements and immediate-classics to make it stand out from the obvious comparisons like The Vaccines’ debut and the early Strokes records. What it does do is provide Howler with a base of catchy tunes which they will hopefully explore and develop on their sophomore record. Hannah Watts