Album Review: The Growlers – Natural Affair

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Photo by Taylor Bonin

For a band to continually be innovative yet remain true to their distinct sound is no easy task, yet it's never been a problem for The Growlers. Their sixth studio album Natural Affair sees the band appear as invigorated as ever. The album features electric and lively songs reminiscent of their previous album City Club, but the songwriting is more polished this time around. City Club certainly wasn't a bad album, but it was guilty of featuring sonics that overshadowed the songwriting. On Natural Affair, they've got the balance just right — they're able to infuse 80s influences, without it overwhelming what's special about The Growlers of old.

There's a lot of love within Natural Affair, especially on a lyrical level. Brooks Nielsen dedicates a number of songs to his wife, who he credits as his biggest influence. There's 'Shadow Woman', which blends tropical influences and shimmering instrumentals with words of admiration for his wife whose support helps him as both an artist and as a man. On the already released 'Pulp of Youth', Nielsen has presented an ode to his wife and their love.

Along with the obvious nods to romantic love, Nielsen also reflects on unconditional love for one's family, which is discussed on the album's closer 'Die and Live Forever'. The track is about standing by family, not only within good moments but also through suffering too.

Natural Affair also sees Nielsen reflect on his relationship with himself. The immensely stirring 'Try Hard Fool' is a reminder for Nielsen to always remain grounded. Though the track appears towards the end of the tracklist, it provides a pivotal moment on the album. Its laidback and reflective demeanour feels like a rush of reality. The upbeat and synth-driven songs are excellent, but 'Try Hard Fool' and the album's more tender moments make Natural Affair more human and raw than anything The Growlers have released before. There's also the ever-so-soulful 'Coinstar', which has country-inspired undertones. The track is an introspective number about Nielsen's previous job as a fountain cleaner, where he would take the coins to buy weed. 'Foghorn Town' is another personal and reflective offering about his youth and wanting something more away from the constraints of his surroundings.

The album has its tender moments, but The Growlers also know when to turn the dial up a few notches and infuse some City Club-esque flavour. Their buoyant track 'Social Man', which is about Nielsen's disdain for social media, is home to an infectious sea of grooves and intricately layered instrumentals. The album's opener and title track ensures that the album opens up bright and spirited.

During the last ten years, The Growlers have presented different versions of their sound without ever losing their authenticity. They've come just as they are on their new album — there's no unnecessary frills or effects, only true, genuine and exquisite songwriting, and it's the reason why Natural Affair is their most honest and refined body of work yet.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Natural Affair will be released tomorrow, October 25th via Beach Goth Records & Tapes

The Growlers will be touring Australia in 2020. Find out below where you can catch them live. Tickets are available here.

Saturday 4 January - Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff NSW
Sunday 5 January - CBD Live Southport, Gold Coast QLD
Monday 6 January - The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD
Wednesday 8 January - Sawtell RSL, Sawtell NSW
Thursday 9 January - 48 Watt St, Newcastle NSW
Friday 10 January - Wollongong Uni, Wollongong NSW
Saturday 11 January - Park House, Mona Vale NSW
Sunday 12 January - Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
Tuesday 14 January - Westernport Hotel, San Remo VIC
Wednesday 15 January - Pier Bandroom, Frankston VIC
Thursday 16 January - The Croxton, Melbourne VIC
Friday 17 January - Torquay Hotel, Torquay VIC

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