A cover of U Got the Look away from being the City of Lakes’ brightest new stars.
Mike Diver 2011
Think of the musical history of Minneapolis and only one name leaps to mind: Prince. Dig deeper and, sure enough, the city’s produced its share of fine-indeed bands, among them The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. But it’s hardly a hotbed to compare to the fertile breeding grounds of Brooklyn, Los Angeles or the E2-E9 spread of east London.
Fresh-faced newcomers Howler might be a band to kick-start a revival in the city’s pop fortunes. This debut EP is pleasingly lo-fi of crackle, but the songs are catchy and memorable enough to comprise fine foundations for an album proper. Far more in line with the post-punk pop-savvy punch of Paul Westerberg and company than the salubrious funk jams of the Purple One, they snap and strut with a confidence uncommon for a band clearly some years shy of legal drinking age. There’s a suggestion of the same whip-smart simplicity that characterised the first Strokes releases – Rough Trade is certainly the natural UK home for this outfit.
Given their relatively rudimentary writing, there is no shortage of parallels to be drawn. But Band A sounding like Band B is part and parcel of pop writing and (and criticising, for that matter) – artists operating in a vacuum are surely doomed to failure by their own stubbornness, as Joe Public needs familiarity to breed contentedness. So chalk up the aforementioned acts, plus any from a list that includes The Soft Pack, No Age, Girls and Ganglians; not to mention a smattering of domestic outfits whose summery indie-pop has crossed the Atlantic with ease (think: Teenage Fanclub, or the frazzled kitchen-sink-isms of Let’s Wrestle). Frontman Jordan Gatesmith’s evidently been burned by an ex, his lyrics dominated by talk of what was, and his thoughts on the matter now. Again, it’s well-heard fare that doesn’t need great investment on the part of the listener to be understood.
So far, so what, largely – on paper at least. But it all clicks on record, to the extent where Howler will surely rise to the uppermost reaches of ones-to-watch lists for the end of this year and the start of next. They’re a cover of U Got the Look away from being the City of Lakes’ brightest new stars.