Hyper-poised pop rock that loses some of the band's original charm
Jessie Atkinson
17:23 24th October 2019

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The Growlers have slathered on the pop polish for their sixth album Natural Affair. The new outing is a hyper-poised LP that, while arranged and produced excellently, loses some of the band’s early DIY charm with its shift.

Natural Affair is a fairground from start to finish, waltzer basslines and bright guitar notes that try at ‘This Charming Man’ insouciance whirl in a controlled environment of fun around classic Brooks Nielsen lyrics. And some of it works: ‘Pulp of Youth’ is a gorgeous love song that bounces along on woozy surf riffs and jaunty keys, while ‘Truly’ soaks in a luxurious guitar part that recalls the indie triumph of earlier records. 

Elsewhere, the new formula sticks a little too well as songs feel as though they run into one another: a carousel of sickly pop rock that echoes Cage the Elephant more than initial influences Thee Oh Sees.

Having said that, Natural Affair is an album that will please many of its millions of fans with its obvious sense of fun and characteristically clever lyrics. Tracks like ‘Social Man’ and ‘Natural Affair’ will fit effortlessly into their oft-toured setlist and present plenty of finger clicking, refrain-shouting moments.

The Growlers have fun on tracks like ‘Social Man’ which suffers from tired anti-Instagram lyrics but experiments with funk in a joyful wink, while the 70’s style ‘Coinstar’ tells the story of Nielsen’s former job as a city fountain cleaner atop charming keys.

In the past three years, The Growlers have disappeared with armfuls of the influence that Julian Casablancas bestowed on them during the production of previous LP City Club. Bold instrumental accents and anthemic choruses spill as they run, landing on Natural Affair in spades: even their logo has taken on a Strokes-lique gleam. Sadly, much of the original DIY charm of the original Beach Goths is lost in the fray. 

Natural Affair is released on 25 October 2019 via Beach Goth Records. 

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