America Give Up 3/5 It’s pretty crude to boil a band down to an equation, but with this Minneapolis-based quintet wearing their influences like band badges on an artfully distressed jean jacket, well, it’s just so easy. While we’re in the mood for stew, Howler are a boiled-off broth of ingredients including The Cramps, The Libertines and The Strokes, with a dash of The Modern Lovers and a sprinkling of early Razorlight back when they were aping The Libertines, who were just being the British Strokes, who were… oh, you get the picture.
Chief songwriter is 19-year-old Jordan Gatesmith and, while there is a certain appeal to the band’s cleanly crafted scuzz-rock, given the album title it’d be fair to expect some sort of socio-political commentary. Sadly, the best Gatesmith can offer is: ‘We wanted to give a middle finger to something.’ Why set yourself up if you’ve got nothing to say? Of course, some of the best songs ever written communicate ambiguous, angsty ennui, but unfortunately Howler lack grit, conviction and articulacy.