If there ever was a band that doesn’t give a damn about belonging in a scene or being trendy, it’s Gnarwolves. Since emerging out of Brighton five years ago, they’ve constantly stuck to their guns. Having founded a solid skate punk base, their second full-length outing, ‘Outsiders’, on the surface, sticks to same carefree DIY punk ethos.
It races out the gates with ‘Straitjacket’, setting the tone for the remainder of the record; raucous, catchy with all the fat cut off. If three or so minute, fist-in-the-air melodic punk is what your diet requires, then Gnarwolves offer it in abundance. Songs such as ‘Car Crash Cinema’, ‘Wires’, and ‘Paint Me A Martyr’ rumble along with passion, and more importantly, sentiment.
Lyrically, Thom Weeks shows a more considered, introspective side. While in the past Gnarwolves were the party. Now they’d rather at home, stay in bed (see ’The Comedown Song’) and avoid the outside world as Weeks’ confronts his personal anxiety and issues. He takes on unpleasant relationships (‘Argument’) and the realisation that he’s caved in into chasing the unreachable American Dream (‘English Kids’).
Yet it’s the seven-minute finale, ‘Shut Up’, that sees Weeks at his most honest. The refrained instrumentation of the three-piece allows his words of escapism to pierce through. As it heads to its conclusion, the impassioned release grips hold of you, making you fully realise the level of Weeks’ emotional state.
Despite the (slightly) serious tone of the record, the penultimate track, ’Channeling Brian Molko’, shows the trio haven’t completely lost their humorous side; “every song starts the same, pathetic lines or parody of real life”. While ‘Talking To Your Ghost’ sees the trio embrace their 90s college rock side as it wouldn’t sound out of place on Weezer’s early classics.
The next phase of Gnarwolves’ evolution is one based on honesty, transparency, finding comfort in being “outsiders” and staying true to themselves. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
‘Outsiders’ by Gnarwolves is released 5th May on Big Scary Monsters / Tangled Talk.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)