Debut albums are always a ton of fun to review as they come with so much hope, promise, and youthful exuberance as the artists try to put their unique stamp on the music scene. Snarls’ debut LP Burst comes sparkling onto the indie rock music scene with vibrant guitars, shimmering harmonies, and a plethora of hooks to balance out their band. Snarls are a four-piece band from Columbus, OH, and are led by Chlo White (vocals, guitar) who wastes little time getting down to business on this excellent record. Rounding out the band are Riley Hall (bass, vocals), Mick Martinez (guitar), and Max Martinez (drums). Snarls seem to fit well with other emo/indie bands such as Snail Mail, Haim, and Soccer Mommy, but they have plenty of musical chops to stand out and be memorable on their own.
Kicking off the set of songs with their first single “Walk in the Woods” is a delicate and exciting way of introducing themselves to the world. The soft-spoken vocals in the first verse lead the way to a shimmering chorus where White sings triumphantly, “I can’t quit you baby! / No matter how hard I try.” It all feels very authentic, endearing, and especially heartfelt coming from this group of musicians who gel together nicely from the first few notes.
Other songs like, “Marbles,” deal with the process of doubting oneself as well as balancing their mental self-care. Whereas “Twenty” tackles the difficulties of growing up and becoming a person that others may not recognize, even to themselves. Both of these songs deal with real-life issues, take it all in stride, and still do enough to make the music around it sound bright, even if the themes around it may not be the most flowery.
“What’s It Take” is a pure guitar-pop bliss song that cuts through the earlier heavier themes with confidence and exuberance not usually seen in bands this young. The group feels incredibly polished on this song, in particular, that hums along perfectly in sync and with purpose.
“Hair” is one of the more unique songs on the LP with its stop-start vocals and Alanis Morissette-sounding storytelling aspect to their repertoire. The grunge-inspired, 90’s flavored guitars hit the right chord in my listening preference, and it reminded me of a great era of music. Other tracks such as the down-tuned ballad “Concrete” go through the emotions of feeling tied down to a relationship that doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction.
My personal favorite from the album is an acoustic guitar-driven song called “All Of This Will End,” since it shows off the vulnerability of the band, and especially vocalist White’s ability to make herself so believable. The way that the band rallies around her softly sung vocals into a full-on crescendo later in the song makes it one of the more memorable and enjoyable songs I’ve heard from a new artist in quite some time.
As good as that song would have been as the album closer, “Falling” and the title track, “Burst,” help round out the complete vision of the band. “Falling” feels like Snarls taking a victory lap of sorts, as the band comes to terms with the group they want to be and revisit some of the earlier moods from the beginning of the record. The final song, and title tracks, is a bass-driven track that doesn’t expand upon their sound as much as it summarizes what the band is capable of creating when they are on top of their game.
In the end, we’re left with a solid debut album from the Columbus, OH four-piece band that will be known as Snarls. While I feel they may have benefited from small resequencing of tracks towards the latter half of the album, few debut albums are perfect from the get-go. I fully expect Snarls to become one of the bands to watch as 2020 unfolds, and I look forward to seeing how they continue to develop as they push forward in their careers.