City Club is what happens when 60s beach rock time travels and gets 80s synth happy. On an album produced under former Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas, and his record label Cult Records, its anticipation meets expectations.
At first listen, it isn’t hard to believe that Julian Casablancas laid his hands on this, with Stroke-like riffs different from old school Growlers “Uncle Sam’s A Dick” twang. It also isn’t hard to tell the switch from surf beats to a more indie outlook. Though it isn’t love at first listen, it’s a good kind of confusion that soon becomes a dancematic party revving album with brief, sad moments. The Growlers deliver their cleanest album yet and explore new boundaries in their sound and lyricism since Chinese Fountain.
The opening track titled after the album itself kicks off with a modernistic dance beat, a cool and sophisticated ease into a west coast metropolitan night scene. Different from happy upbeats and abrupt randomness heard in previous albums, The Growlers’ songwriting appears to be more grown up with tracks like “When You Were Made”, where they seem to be talking to someone going through their parents’ divorce. In other tracks like “Night Ride”, the band addresses the departure of their former drummer, Scott Montoya.
The drums are tighter, riffs crisper, and the keys more prominent. Brooks Nielsen’s vocal dynamics remain the same, maintaining his rough, grungy signature sound. Other tracks like “World Unglued” give off an 80s gamer-type vibe, while “Too Many Times” features Julian Casablancas himself ultimately leading us to a freeway riding jam, “Speed Living”.
Seemingly out of an 80s dance club, City Club stands out by moving back from their Californian beginning and into the modern world while bringing their straw hats and surfboards with.
Key Tracks: I’ll Be Around, Night Ride, Too Many Times
RIYL: The Oh-Sees, Allah-Las