Live Review: Howler, Bodega (27/03/14)

Minneapolis indie rockers return to Nottingham but the new material fails to thrill, and the best song has miraculously disappeared.

We really wanted Howler to be the next Strokes. We really, really wanted their jangly American pop to inspire the next wave of groundbreaking guitar bands. Sadly, they aren’t, and they haven’t.

Regardless of your opinion on the largely bland indie rock that they have served up for us, ‘I Told You Once’ remains a cracking tune. The first track that most people heard from Howler, the catchiest track, the best track. And bizarrely, the track that they no longer play. Global stars are allowed to make this kind of artistic statement. Mediocre indie bands, for whom most people have paid the princely sum of £12 to see just that one song, are not. Utterly bizarre.

Howler returned from their mini-exile with new single ‘Don’t Wanna’, the lyrics of which include the gem: ‘you don’t have to listen to The Smiths if you don’t want to’. You can almost imagine Johnny Marr taking lead singer Jordan Gatesmith to one side: ‘You’re going out with my daughter, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to her dad’s seminal indie band’. Maybe he should start, because it would make the droning drabness of ‘Drip’ and ‘Louise’ a little more exciting. ‘World Of Joy’ is their attempt at a Room On Fire moment, but it sounds more Kaiser Chiefs than Julian Casablancas.

Imagine Wavves‘ Nathan Williams taking himself too seriously, then you’d have something close to Howler. Reasonably catchy riffs set to mid-tempo drumming, but lacking in any self-mocking. It sounds nice and it’s entirely inoffensive, but surprisingly, contrary to Gatesmith’s seemingly jovial nature, it is bereft of any humour or wit.

Despite this writer’s apathy, a twenty person-strong huddle jumps and bounces along to every song. After all, they do say that music is a subjective business, maybe I’m just missing something. Catch Albert Hammond Jr. at the same venue on the 12th May to see how this should sound.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to Brian Eno – ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’…

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