The Growler's sixth album was produced by a certain Julian Casablancas off of The Strokes, and it's easy to tell, especially with the eponymous track, which could have come straight from a Strokes album. It's a decent album, but for me, it certainly isn't a Growlers album, there's nowhere near enough fuzz or feeling.
There are funky, thudding baselines and 70s-esque synths that all add to the retro stylings of the album, it's good garage rock with the memory of psychedelia, which is what The Growlers do, but not like this. City Club is clean, polished and neat around the edges, it's the musical equivalent of a suit that's just been dry cleaned. I won't accuse the album of being boring, because it isn't, I do like it, some stand out tracks are Vacant Lot and Blood of a Mutt they have more of a sloppy drawl to them that's ever so appealing. But, it must be said that while they're toying with the idea of making something new, it falls flat, the usual formula doesn't quite work for them here.
The worst thing about the Growlers album is that it's just inoffensive, you get what you see, you get a good album that sounds like a member of The Strokes produced it. Inoffensive is okay, it's accessible, which is great for new and casual fans, but I know that a lot of Growlers fans will not only dislike this record but they'll hate it. City Club is made for background music in trendy bars or during a montage of two teens falling in love in an angsty coming of age movie, there is no real substance to it. After each track I'm left waiting to be punched in the gut by some scuzz or some distorted trippy vocals, but I'm left waiting for the whole album, it just doesn't really deliver.
Bands are allowed a few duds, it's somewhat inevitable. This album, for me, is a dud. The Growlers have so much more to offer, that's made clear by the best track on the album Neverending Line which is the most Growlers they get on City Club. It's a shame, really, because it could have been a really interesting change in direction for the band, but it just doesn't quite hit the mark.
(Words: Cal Cashin)