June 2014 National Music Reviews

Review: Howls – Howls

Buddyhead Records
Street: 05.13
Howls = PVT + Planet Earth–era Duran Duran

If I close my eyes as I listen to this album, I’m walking through an inky venue with strobing lights, and shadowy glitter is falling in slow motion from the ceiling. The Howls craft brooding electronica such hallucinations—they progress in each song from minor to major keys, from psychedelia to fuzz-rock, and sexy to sentimental acoustic guitar. Every few verses, something unexpected is incorporated on an unsteady crescendo, impressing me further. For example: buzzing effects combined with new wave guitar stylings on “No Man,” or “Electric Wave,” an amalgamate of vintage influences and modern methods. At times minimalist, at times a muddled wall of sound, this album incorporates seemingly every point of a spherical spectrum. Throbbing bass lines and metamorphosing piano are integral ingredients of every song. “Sixteen” and “Sunset Junction” come off slightly schmaltzy, but musically have merit. Howls is sure to be one of my favorite albums of the year. –LeAundra Jeffs