Album Review: The Growlers, Not. Psych!

Seattle – The Growlers might not be known for taking things especially seriously.  They regularly joke of their constant inebriation and constant bumming. This isn’t a farce or anything, but I’m guessing that these guys take at least one thing seriously and that thing is their music. In 2013 the Costa Mesa, CA band has now put out two releases, played many, many festivals, put on their own “Beach Goth” party and spent most of the rest of the year on tour. This, however, is par for the course for these guys. On October 28, The Growlers released Not. Psych!, their newest EP and newest set of truly unique sounds.

Not. Psych! is only seven tracks in length and definitely doesn’t have the full-length feel to it that the Growlers full length albums do (it is an EP, after all, so that’s fully excusable). With such a busy schedule, it’s not a surprise that this isn’t the most comprehensive release for the band but that’s not to say that it’s not just as enjoyable and doesn’t provide just as many irresistible songs as their previous work.

They released “Humdrum Blues” through some select websites and while it’s definitely one of the catchiest on the EP, easily the highlight is “Tell It How It Is.” It’s got that “je-ne-sais-quoi” (intentionally facetious) that makes requires any Growlers fan to border on obsession from time to time.

Oddly, the first half of this EP is exquisitely superior to the second. After “Humdrum Blues” there’s nothing as instinctually awesome, but lyrically the post-single songs reveal a more honest and perhaps humble Growlers than we’ve encountered before. “Nobody Owns You” feels like the closest we might even come to understanding the minds of these guys.

There is, in fact, something innovative about this EP and it comes from the production rather than the composition. The band has always treated Brooks Nielsen’s vocals as equal part to the other instruments both in live performances and on recordings (only occasionally allowing it to be showcased, just as much as any of the other member). Not. Psych!, however, distinguishes the lyrical and vocal prowess of Nielson while still allowing the distinct musical styling of the other instruments to shine through. It’s funny they chose this EP to allow the words to shine because lyrically, this EP is super weird — “Little girls won’t last forever / enjoy them while you can / they’re made for little boys / and soon you’ll be a man” Okay, guys, that’s cool.

Not. Psych!  is available through Fat Cat Records; they’ll also eventually come back from Europe and starting touring in the US again and you can check out those dates here.