13 years and six studio albums in, The Growlers are still masters of blending catchy pop choruses with dark, sleazy grooves; of mixing unabashed optimism with after-hours vignettes of neon lights and cheap red wine.
‘Natural Affair’ is full of melodies and sentiments so sweet they’d sound sickly coming from anyone else, but somehow - through a combination of wailing synths, distorted guitars and singer Brooks Nielsen’s gruff vocals - the band make it work. Closer ‘Die and Live Forever’ is a prime example, where against all the odds they make the line “Love together, suffer together / Laugh and cry together” sound cool rather than corny.
Admittedly, even the most dedicated beach goth might find lines as on the nose as this one a little tiring after 40 or so minutes. Thankfully elsewhere songs take unexpected turns and Brooks’ lyrics are far less straightforward, full of pleasing wordplay and strange idiosyncrasies.
The resulting album may not radically build on its predecessors, but it does contain enough quality to suggest beach goth doesn’t need reinventing any time soon.