Ready to burn some lean muscle tissue? Feel the inner surge of blood and electrolytes well up into a whirlpool of nerve and struggle to exude out of your every pore as you reach the 30 seconds mark ‘Ilson Surf Disaster’, the opening track of Those Howlin’ Sounds’ debut album Sleepwalker. This opening track perfectly sets the bar for the album, fully launching the listener into overdrive and tempting my mind to imagine an accompanying scenario. Allow me to set the scene:
You’re suavely gripping onto the steering wheel with your leather-bound, fingerless gloves and feeling the cool, dense resistance of the hot summer air and the thick, hair-slickening layers of vamping guitars and, you guessed it, distorted, feverish ululating reminiscent of a coyote in heat blaring out of your car stereo, barely staying together under the throbbing weight of the exposed August sun. The tape player has clicked onto ‘Twenty Five’, the second track on the album and you take a left turn onto a dirt track:
You’re now entering the desolate, dusty plains of the Gobi desert of your own soul, nothing but nature at its rawest and crudest state from here on out. The dust and the defiant melody meddling to form a unique coalescence, enveloping your every sense and leaving you with the sensation of floating in a pool of thick gazpacho as you wrestle against ‘Be Through’, my personal favourite stand-out track of the LP. This track leaves the sense of being kicked in the chest and off the edge of a crumbling cliff face until your jaw smacks the solid floor of ‘Slow Macomber’, a drudging, muddy swamp-sifting track which surrounds and immerses you from all sides.
‘Sliverdrone’ picks up the pace, hitting the tarmac running with a revving percussional engine as your automotive bounces off the ground and into tunnel vision mode, dashing over and consuming the road marks at a pace synchronised with the tape deck before skipping onto ‘Forget Me’. The peyote and whisky are beginning to kick in now as the tempo drops slightly and night descends, lifting the lingering, sweltering heat of the desert sun, cooling the metallic hood of the beaten and bruised machine. The mood shifts to the introspective but the intensity remains, this is where the band’s inner grunge emerges to the surface of the swamp with a tone that makes you want to double-fist punch the dashboard to the beat, especially on the ruthlessly unforgiving mind-pummelling that is ‘Panama’.
A much-welcomed exhalation of relief comes in the form of the next track, ‘2p Philosophy’ to the sound of weeping, sliding guitar waterfalls which console us for the journey that Those Howlin’ Sounds have taken us on so far and prepare us for our victorious emergence from the dust and the mud, the sweat and the heat. You ride off into the sunset until your car peels off of the dirt track and flies off into the vast, wide open, reverberating landscape to the acoustic tune of ‘I Was Wrong’, the most emotive and melancholically uplifting track.
This record is a journey of tone and sensation, at time Stooge-esque, other times Arctic Monk-ey, it musters up a sense that it ought to be pressed onto a disc made of gravel and scar tissue – it is clear that the bend have left it all on this album.
Commence your own THR journey here, on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7lbCdmROxCYvmQKepWOxxk
Written by Liam MacGregor-Hastie