Gnarwolves - 'Gnarwolves' (Album Review)

Gnarwolves’ journey is something that can be explained in two simple sentences: last year, they opened the Lock Up stage at the Reading & Leeds Festivals. This year, they opened the main stage.

What more proof do you need to agree that dingy Brighton basements might not be big enough for these snotty upstarts anymore? While demand for larger-scale shows like Reading & Leeds is rife, Gnarwolves appear reluctant to depart from their DIY roots, and rightly so. Between the intimate shows they thankfully continue to play, the crowds grow in size, as do the amount of kids that surf to their hearts’ content atop the audience.

‘Boneyard’ seethes with the same angsty aggression that leads both the band and the crowd to chant ‘GNARWOLVES CREW FUCK YOU’ with pride at their gigs, while ‘Everything You Think You Know’ is a neater, more polished cut from the trio. ‘Ebb’ is a pleasant change to proceedings, adding some progression to the equation with a moody swell-and-stomp pattern that leads to an almighty conclusion, and ‘Smoking Kills’ is nothing short of glorious, invigorating and infectious as the plague.

Gnarwolves is the kind of album that makes you want to grab a skateboard and grind the nearest rail to dust, whether you know how to skate or not. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to spunk all of your student loan on Domino’s. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to replace your entire wardrobe with 5 panel caps, waffle-sole pumps and tie-dye t-shirts.

It is the quintessential slacker album that manages to avoid sounding half-arsed. Some may argue that it’s over all too quickly (clocking in at a mere 27 minutes long across 10 tracks), or that all of the thrashy beats morph into one, but therein lies a rootsy ethic that has been long overlooked by squeaky clean power-pop outfits. While many of the stalwarts on the pop-punk circuit end up listing blink-182’s Enema Of The State as a key influence, these boys are more likely to nod towards Cheshire Cat or Dude Ranch, alongside NOFX, the earlier works of The Offspring, and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtracks.

Here we have yet another impressive debut in 2014; a debut that gently nudges Gnarwolves towards the shuttle of fellow British hopefuls, with a course set for stratospheric heights of various proportion over the coming months. Whether they choose to board or not, Gnarwolves is not thought-provoking, it’s not expansive, and it’s not intelligent. It is, on the other hand, young, dumb and full of fun.

DOWNLOAD: ‘Smoking Kills’; ‘Boneyard’; ‘Day Man’


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