Three years have passed since Brighton punks Gnarwolves released their self-titled debut. In the scheme of things that might not so long, but the change in the band is more than evident. ‘Outsiders’, though harbouring the same energy and DIY ideals as its predecessor, is a record more nuanced, and more considered than anything the trio have released before.
While opener ‘Straightjacket’ establishes a familiar scene of a desperate need to leave a hometown, following track ‘Car Crash Cinema’ brings a new found emphasis on melody to the fore. Effortlessly calling to mind the likes of The Flatliners, it’s Gnarwolves, but not quite as you’ve heard them before.
This emphasis on melody is something that continues throughout the record. Having spent time on their respective side projects in the three years between albums, the wonky indie pop of Shit Present can be felt in tracks like ‘Channelling Brian Molko’ or ‘Talking to Your Ghost’.
Lyrically however, ‘Outsiders’ covers familiar ground, though does so with new-found maturity. The band’s wry worldview feels more refined, more cynical even. Rather than get bogged down in bleakness however, it’s delivered with their trademark humour, making the self-doubt and self-deprecation a little easier to stomach. The aforementioned ‘Channelling Brian Molko’ is arguably the best example of this; the track verses a faster, less heady take on Placebo’s ‘Nancy Boy’.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Gnarwolves record without a certain degree of happiness, even if that happiness is found in the catharsis of sharing the same misery. A bold and ballsy release that signifies a massive step in both the band’s chemistry and career. Gnarwolves have always embodied the very idea of being outsiders, they do things their own way, but with the release of their second record, you could do much worse than do it with them.