thegrowlers

If the brilliantly crisp jangle of taster cut ‘Big Toe’ wasn’t enough of a clue, Dana Point’s psych-snarlers have had something of a makeover on their fourth long-player. Somewhat in keeping with their “Beach Goth” self-synopsis, ‘Chinese Fountain’ feels very much like a member of that monochrome subculture stripping the black eyeliner and sprucing up in a suit for a distant relative’s big day.

The cavernous licks and quaint honky tonk-isms that you’d expect still permeate each of the 11 reverb-laden tracks here, but The Growlers’ new studio gloss sees Brooks Nielsen’s dry musings bubble to the surface as the record’s chief lure. The results are not all gravy, however, and without shrouding his words in the band’s early lo-fi mystery, Nielson’s gravely groan is often over-exposed; ‘Black Memories’, in particular, meanders rather aimlessly, like the languid internal monologue of a grouchy old bar fly.

Luckily, the more lackadaisical offerings are interrupted by the occasional burst; the Wampire-like ‘Good Advice’ blazes into view like a lit beacon, all glowing organs and barked hooks – something that lifts the whole listen into pleasurable territory, just about.

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