ALBUM REVIEW: Snarls – Burst

8/10

Snarls

Have you ever stopped and thought about the fundamentals of being alive? You’re a single person, trying to make your way in the world just like everyone else – a place that feels increasingly fragmented and overwhelming. Reducing your life to its essentials and looking out on the world from your personal vantage point can be an experience as liberating as it is terrifying – and Snarls know this quite well. On their debut album Burst, they try to make sense of it from their corner of the world.

The Columbus, Ohio-based quartet – namely, Chlo White (vocals/guitar), Riley Hall (bass/vocals), and siblings Mick and Max Martinez (guitar and drums, respectively), all in their early 20s – will readily admit they’re just as unprepared for that as anyone else. They’ve been an active band for just over two years, and in that time they’ve worked to understand themselves before turning their attention to the outside world. 2018’s self-titled debut EP was a lo-fi, grunge-tinged delight, released by a band who would go on to clean up and streamline their sound for its full-length follow-up.

The confessional nature of the record’s lyrical concerns, coupled with the heart-on-sleeve delivery, is instantly endearing. ‘Walk In The Woods’ opens the record, with White’s head in a spin as she weighs up the pros and cons of a difficult relationship while lamenting how she even got to that point: “You’ve got me in a knot / But it’s my fault it’s tied / I’m waiting on you to make it worth the while.” EP highlight ‘Twenty’ appears in a reworked form, brought in line with their updated ‘emo glitter pop’ aesthetic to sound bigger and bolder than before, though no less wracked with doubt. “I’m not who I thought I was gonna be / Chase my tail and dreams like a fucking freak” White sings.

That track lays down the foundations for the album’s outlook, as personal as it’s ever been. The serrated guitars of ‘Better Off’ cut right to the heart of the twentysomething struggle, longing for security when none appears to be insight: “I’d be so much better off if I knew what the world was handing me.” The desperation of ‘Marbles’, meanwhile, will sound instantly familiar to those living with depression as it pinballs between moments of restraint and noisy catharsis: “I didn’t shower today / But always put on my gold chain / Throw on my favourite long sleeve / Get myself ready to leave.” Trying to get through daily life with poor mental health is a challenge at the best of times, and White’s voice is an ideal conduit for this, the uplift of the song’s chorus contrasting with the pain in her tone as she admits, “I think I’ve lost my marbles.”

Penultimate track ‘Falling’ occupies similar territory, White taking herself to task for her inability to open up (“Everybody thinks I am what they see / Feeling like I have to keep quiet, keep my thoughts inside”) as the track’s unusual structure paints a picture of instability and second-guessing, never really settling over its four minutes as its odd-meter verses and powerful, surging chorus are bookended by tense passages that highlight White and Hall’s dual vocal harmonies, a key feature of their sound that eventually gets its moment in the spotlight. Throughout its 35-minute running time, the quartet’s debut album showcases both a winning strength and sincere vulnerability, muddling through life as best they can and setting it to a tumultuous, energising soundtrack. They may not have all the answers, but on Burst, Snarls present themselves as a band eager to make the best of what they have. Big hooks, big feelings, grand ambition – if you’re keen on any of that, then congratulations, you’ve found your new favourite band.

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