Written by: PP on 24/12/2017 14:23:04

UK gruff punks Gnarwolves have scooped up heaps and heaps of praise and critical acclaim at a very early point in their career. They have released a series of EPs and a compilation album, plus a debut album three years ago that has catapulted them into national fame and to some of the bigger stages at UK festivals. I'm not sure that's been entirely deserved strictly from a stylistic point of view, because while each release has contained at least one or two absolute bangers, overall the records have been somewhat inconsistent.

That changes on sophomore album "Outsiders", which is objectively the best music of their career so far. It represents a stylistic evolution from the band towards a cleaner and more structured sound without entirely abandoning their gravelly punk rock origins. In a nutshell, the tempo has been brought down a little bit from the constant breakneck speed shredding towards a more reasonable high-tempo affair, that allows the band to create soundscapes with much more variety than before.

The album opens with four bombastic tracks straight off the bat. "Straitjacket" features their characteristic, Polar Bear Club-esque ringing bass and guitar interplay, and has an anthemic chorus that'll justify huge sing alongs at live shows: "I was born in a straitjacket...i was booooorn.... i was boooorn". "Car Crash Cinema", the best track on the album, echoes Hot Water Music style gravelly howls during its chorus that shift tone from the pop punk-ish verses to back chilling "You'll hit the wall...before you touch the floor"" shouts. Here, the band toy with angular guitars and more complex melodies, resulting in a captivating song that should rank high on end-of-year lists about the best punk songs of 2017.

It is followed by "Wires", which is a more traditional punk rock song with Midwestern punk-style vocals and an upbeat tempo, spiced with tempo shifts and woo-hoo backing vocals. Great stuff so far. "Paint Me A Martyr" then follows as a tribute to older Gnarwolves fans by flooring the tempo, but once again brings an infectious chorus that's among the highlights on the record.

From here onwards, the songs become distinctly more complex and challenging, where the lead melodies and choruses aren't necessarily as obvious. Sure, "English Kids" is a banger, but it's a more of a "punk rocker's anthem" than one reaching out to fans beyond the core of the genre. "Argument" is perhaps a better example with its angular guitars that once again recall Polar Bear Club's past, whilst the vocals draw from the likes of The Menzingers.

It's an interesting mix that makes it difficult to pigeonhole Gnarwolves more specifically than just punk rock. There's some Midwestern punk, some pop punk, some skate punk, and many other subgenres blended into a sound that's very much their own. And if anything, "Outsiders" proves that they can finally write an album's worth of great songs, even if it's less chaotic and less unpredictable than before.


Download: Car Crash Cinema, Straitjacket, Wires
For the fans of: Polar Bear Club, Hot Water Music, Half Hearted Hero
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.05.2017
Big Scary Monsters

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