Still unmistakably WOAHNOWS – and suitably frazzled and frayed around the edges throughout – it’s also considerably more refined, and it’s clear from the off that the time spent on the road has been put to good use. It’s also led to a slightly more harmonised sound, meaning you could stick WOAHNOWS on just about any indie/punk bill in the country and they’re guaranteed to go down a treat. Want a band to play with The Xcerts and bring the stadium rock? There’s just enough on ‘Understanding and Everything Else’ to throw your firt in the air and sing your lungs out. Want a band to bring some off kilter indie pop and strong melodies to play with Martha? WOAHNOWS can bring that to the table and leave you wanting more. Or maybe you want something slightly subversive to stand up to the playful dissonance of Future of the Left? WOAHNOWS could fill those shoes too…
Yet WOAHNOWS never really sound like any of those bands. Instead, there’s a character and charm that comes purely from wanting to get on stage and play the music you enjoy. And you have to say, WOAHNOWS have pretty much nailed that feeling.
The likes of the galloping ‘Life In Reverse’ and glorious ‘Puncher’ both take cues from indie and punk and should be embraced easily by people in both camps. Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find a stronger first half of an album this year, with the first six tracks all offering up something new, building on their sound, adding shades of light and dark and throwing in some hugely enjoyable gang vocal moments or even flashes of math-rock. It ensures everything remains fresh and exciting and really can’t be faulted.
If there’s one criticism, it’s something of an inevitability – and that’s the second half never really matches the first. The likes of ‘Livid/Rise’ and ‘No Such Thing’ are far too overdriven and don’t really work in the context of the album. However, having seen WOAHNOWS live a couple of times now, these are the sorts of songs I’m sure I’m gonna love live, so I’ll look forward to seeing how they translate to that setting.
Overall though, WOAHNOWS have delivered everything we wanted and more. Now go and see them live and have a fucking great time – because you will…
‘Understanding and Everything Else’ by WOAHNOWS is out now on Big Scary Monsters.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)