Snarls: With Love (Take This to Heart) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024  

Snarls

With Love

Take This to Heart

May 10, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Columbus, Ohio and Surnadal, Norway didn’t quite make the cut for the list of cities mentioned in Huey Lewis’ “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” But no worries, as Snarls (denizens of the first city mentioned above) have made sure “that back beat rhythm” is alive and well in those towns and wherever else they may journey. The trio of Chlo White (vocals, guitar), Riley Hall (bass, vocals), and Mick Martinez (guitar, vocals), stole away to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab for Cutie, Ratboys) adopted home country to record their sophomore album, With Love, under his watchful production eye. The group’s prior album, 2020’s Burst, makes for a fine listen as well, but here everything is dialed up a notch and new elements are brought to bear. Verses, pre-choruses, choruses, post-choruses, bridges, creative harmonies, boomy bass, smackingly clear drums, crushing layers of guitar, oh my.

In an era where albums are front end loaded, Snarls make everything here count and save the album’s best two songs for last. Not that the beginning of the album isn’t equally fine, with four surefire winners dealt right off the top. The album’s title track announces itself with a simmering start that boils over into a bashing alt-rock anthem. If sentiments like, “you’re all I ever want to know, don’t you ever let me go,” aren’t exactly novel, the band’s lyrical concerns hearken back to a simpler time where celebrating asphyxiating crushes, nights out drinking, and the cool rush of getting a pretty nice haircut, were fine things to be concerned about. So long as they were adorned with killer hooks and sing along choruses, which are delivered here in spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.

The rest of the first four really get things rolling. “Big Fish” begins on a more downcast note, but quickly escalates to a bracing race of a song with the pressed upon harmonies pushing things well into the red. The best of the opening salvo, the big and bouncy “Heavy Drinker,” extols the virtues of spending the night out drinking at a shitty bar, with an even shittier band playing. Huge guitars and huger “oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” harmonies will have you singing along with White’s carefree “walking out the door, skipping out on my chores.” The following “Baby Bangs” is a wonder unto itself as the dream pop ballad focuses on moments of insecurity, but transforms itself into a near metal meltdown by its end.

The middle of the album softens a bit, with Hall’s heavy bass line on “Wishing Bones” propelling that track to the best of the batch. The urgency of “Star Power” gets things revved up again for the molten end of the album. The gloomy grind of guitars on “Sugar Rush” intermittently push hard into the song’s curves. A wild roller coaster ride of a song. While the seven-minute closer, “Ur Song/Lovers of Valdaro,” finds the band’s winning formula perfectly mixed. The first half of the song finds White at her most vulnerable. “I took the long way home so I could listen to your song,” which puts the listener right in the moment. A perfect power pop song that slowly morphs into an extended muscular drone of an outro. The type of wild and wooly closing bash, anchored by Mike Davis’ steady drumming, which would make Yo La Tengo green with envy.

For a band only two albums in, you can imagine that listening back to With Love in the studio must have left the trio with big ol’ goofy smiles on their faces. Its own reward for a job well done. The energy emitted over the course of the album’s 10 tracks will have toes tapping and heads bobbing along from Columbus to Surnadal and places in between. Sonically speaking, the smile-inducing With Love could easily be the best thing you hear all year. (www.snarlsmusic.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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