The Growlers’ show off their unveiled soul on their first full-length release since the lo-fi synth reinvention of 2016’s City Club. This time relying on only themselves they self-produced and released the 10-track album full of demos and unfinished tracks from the City Club sessions. At first I’ll admit I was a bit uncertain of where this might go. After loving the changes that came on both Chinese Fountain and City Club I really didn’t want to see a lackluster release of unfinished ideas (looking at you Beach House B-Sides and Rarities) and tracks that for good reason didn’t make it on to City Club. But I was pleasantly surprised with Casual Acquaintances. It wedges itself right between the vibe of their live set and City Club. And just in time for their day-long Beach Goth festival in L.A. alongside The Voidz, The Drums and La Luz among many others (send me there please Tamim).
“I think that I’m trying to be positive” perfectly describes the tone of Acquaintances. And yeah, I’m sure Julian Casablancas had a bit to do with the mindset behind a line like “The scene has no soul” but I think throughout the album, especially on tracks like “Drop Your Phone in the Sink” and “Heaven In Hell”, Nielsen lyrically manages to find a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. From a sonic perspective the album appropriately feels at times like City Club demo tracks (“Problems III,” “Orgasm of Death,” “Last Cabaret”) and at times like the desert-dwelling group we came to love from the Hung At Heart days (“Casual Acquaintances,” “Heaven In Hell”).
The only criticism I have is the fact that has the feel of a demos album. This is a great selection of songs and I find it a mild injustice to not flesh them out the way they could. Though had they done so it’s very likely we’d have another City Club. I wouldn’t complain. But I’ll admit shaking off the leftovers of City Club and putting out the first release on their new label is likely the best way forward for The Growlers.