Rough Trade, 2011

Minneapolis has a great history when it comes to producing hungry young guitar bands, starting in the late 70’s with The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, arriving at the present day with a fresh-faced quartet known as Howler. It’s an opening spin too good to refuse for a new band on their debut release, but unless you’re alcoholics in training on a hardcore bent, you may as well just acknowledge the obvious and get on with it.

For a label famous for swooping on bands like The Strokes and The Libertines in their musical infancy, Rough Trade might be onto something here. Much like The Smith Westerns and The Drums, two bands they possess a strikingly similarity with, Howler have the art of writing hook-filled pop tunes that boil over with surf-guitar riffs and jittery beats downpat. There’s just nothing spectacularly new here. Howler are perfect for the right now, which means they’re perfect to be the next big thing until the next big thing comes along.

The Jay Reatard revival begins on opener “I Told You Once”” with the doubled acoustic and electric guitars riding each other over handclaps and disaffected lyrical self-loathing. The other four tracks rattle along in much the same passive delivery/urgent action fashion. The EP’s title track shamelessly steals two lines (but let’s call it ‘an homage’) from The Replacements “Within Your Reach”  and “You Like White Women, I Like Cigarettes” is worth mentioning for title alone, but lines like “I want a girl and a new car/a drink and a guitar” make it sound like a spoilt white kids Christmas list. Which it probably is.