Album: YOWL - Atrophy


Category: Surf Rock


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Reviewed by: Harris Escalante

The latest EP from YOWL is interesting in its layers of depth. Somehow the band has managed to create lush sounding tracks with plenty of melodic hooks to complement its dense narrative content. It’s one of those records that a listener will greatly benefit over repeated listens. 

From the instrumentation to the lyrical content, multiple ideas are combined with great attention to detail. From the falsetto call-and-response sections that bounces over Gabriel Bryde’s deep baritone, to the surf-infused rock that seldom devolves into chaotic post-punk as the mood shifts and demands, ATROPHY will keep you glued while Bryde lulls you with his poetic stream of consciousness stories. This may not quite be a full-length LP, but the level of diversity in these songs give it a depth and density that rivals that of their longer-running peers.

Opener “Sunken Boy” feels like a melancholic self introspection that doesn’t fall into the trap of meaningless diatribe, with thoughtful evocations like: “You can’t just give a thing its soul / And expect it to know how to keep that to itself.” It’s not hard to connect with these musings, especially when someone opens up to their vulnerabilities and serenades you with luscious classic rock in the process. 

“Mammalian Fondness” follows with a play-by-play of the nine to five work grind, dealing with the monotony of work and trying to maneuver business dealings and indifferent bosses along the way. “John The Collector” is an upbeat story of a serial killer who finds human connection by butchering the faces of his friends and sticking them to a wall. YOWL doesn’t follow conventional song structures, which really doesn’t fit in free-form narratives like this. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a moment where things sound bland or boring. They seem to have mastered how to change up the song’s energy to keep things fresh. 

“Pagan Middleman is a short-fused post punk rumble with an R&B falsetto sequence in between. “An Inflexible Storeroom” shifts from familiar contemporary rock before diving into dark distorted guitar breakdowns. “Salt Fish” closes the EP in a dreamy ballad, getting hints from the Arctic Monkeys latest work with its crooning vocals and sweet nostalgic twanginess.

YOWL’s diversity showcases their unique and uncompromising approach to craft and artistic vision, which is a great indicator for longevity in a genre that has seen so many legends rise and fall. Other bands may fade and whittle, but I see this British quintet’s fire burn bright for years to come.

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