Brave and sincere.
Label: Big Scary Monsters
Released: 5th May 2017
‘Outsiders’ finds Gnarwolves just as feral and as energised as ever. Taking that energy and determination to pack as much punch as possible into two minutes hasn’t become boring, but in their second album, the trio have also tried to prove there is more to them than partying and skating.
It’s fair to say that a lot of punk bands struggle to age gracefully as they cling onto their teenage angst but, in ‘Outsiders’, Gnarwolves seem to be growing older with their anxieties hand in hand.
Over the ten tracks, vocalist Thom Weeks, part-time punk and mental health nurse, turns the subject of his songs onto his own well-being. From the clenched-fist-punching-the-air opener ‘Straitjacket’ to admissions like “I find comfort in my old anxieties” in ‘Argument’, the singer searches the recesses of his own brain. It’s brave and sincere and once matched with that familiar chunky bass tones and rapid drumming, the songs become everything you’d expect from Gnarwolves.
Elsewhere in ‘Outsiders’, the band continue to sprawl with the feisty ‘The Comedown Song’ which snarls, “Fuck your party I’m sleeping in”, the poppy banger ‘Wires’ and the surprising ode to Placebo’s ‘Nancy Boy’ in ‘Channelling Brian Molko’.
The six-minute epic ‘Shut Up’ closes out the album and delivers everything there is to love about Gnarwolves. Slower in tempo but as aggressive as ever, the track is grungy and bare and, despite being by far their longest track to date, it may well be one of the best things they’ve ever written.
It’s the subtle differences, the more personal tone and more focused sound, that lifts ‘Outsiders’ onto a new level. But, essentially, Gnarwolves will always be the same beast: punk music for the common people. Alexander Bradley