With Love

When the time came for Snarls to begin work on the material that would become their sophomore LP, they knew they wanted to work with producer Chris Walla again. The only issue was that Walla’s U.S. based Seattle studio wasn’t an option at that time period. When Chris Walla pitched the idea of the Ohio indie rock band to come to his actual home in Norway, the offer was simply too good for the band (whom had never been overseas) to pass up. With Love gets a lot of its charm from this other-worldly opportunity for the band to hunker down and pen some of their most meaningful songs to date, albeit in another part of the globe. Indie rock’s best kept secret shines all over their second full-length record that is urgent, thoughtful, impactful, and immediately gratifying. Snarls continue to show their steady growth as musicians, and Walla can only sit back and gleefully admire this journey the young band is taking with him at the producer helm. The shimmering first chorus on the title track sets the table nicely with its lyrics of, “‘Cause I’ll always love you / I’m in your corner, too / Carry you in my heart everyday / With love.” Much like the album artwork that carefully pens the words “With Love,” in the locket, Snarls keep their music accessible, yet utterly passionate.

After a pulsating bass line (from Riley Hall) in the opening track, Snarls gain their solid footing with veteran ease on “Big Fish,” that finds them coming to terms with their atmospheric rise in the music scene. As Chloe White sings on the first chorus of, “I’ve turned into a big fish / And you don’t even know it yet / I’m coming up around the bend / And you don’t even know it,” its hard to not admire her starry-eyed vision as she realizes her biggest dreams are coming true around her and her bandmates. “Heavy Drinker” follows the raucous one-two punch of the opening statements with a steady beat, paired with sensible lyrics about observing the world around them. The second verse of, “She’s a shitty singer / Lungs are full of smoke and she’s missing all the notes / But I’m a believer / And I think she’s gonna get it right / After this blinker / The mic is in her hand and she’s part of the band and / My heart’s in pieces, she looks like a real rock star,” is well-constructed and cautiously optimistic, which only adds to the band’s charm.

One of the more recent singles from the set, “Baby Bangs” starts off rather cautiously, but accelerates to the finish line with big-sounding power chords that reverberate off of the speakers. The song, which is about leaving your old self behind for a better version of yourself tomorrow, features incredibly mature lyrics and wise-beyond-their-years foresight into what lies ahead.

My personal favorite track in the set comes at the midway point, with “Moon Tides,” which is simply stunning in its composition. The verses stack on top of each nicely as Chlo admits in the first verse, “I know I’m far from perfect / But would you think that you deserved it / If I could hold little you like my own,” while later convincing herself in the next verse that, “Perfection’s a curse word that I can never live up to / But I’ve grown, I know I’m not on my own / And reflection’s not done only in the silence of solitude.” The band is miles ahead of where they were on their debut, Burst, and it’s a really fun time to see their growth in real time. The guitar tones that Walla targets on songs like this showcase why he’s such a trusted hand in the indie rock scene. He strategically picks the spots that will bring the most emphasis towards the song’s strengths, and with surgeon-like precision, makes the band shine.

The back half opens with the bouncy guitar riffs found on “Driving Faster,” paired with three-part harmonies from the three female musicians, and it is simply gorgeous. It’s a great way to set the table for the epic conclusion of With Love. “Wishing Bones” has a great bass line that gradually adds in the guitar parts, drums, and lastly vocals to make for an ultra-memorable indie rock song. The second verse has some great vocal cadence in the delivery of, “Like I’m scared of rejection, if I’m subject to your affection” by putting just the right emphasis on the rhyme. “Star Power” finds Chlo on the verge of gushing with love as she pens a powerful anthem of wondering if that other person feels the same way as you in your affection. It’s a vulnerable track that never overstays its welcome. Fan favorite “Sugar Rush” rocks like an early-Weezer type of emo song that laments in the darkness before exploding into the light with the hook of, “Your precious touch / I’ll never leave it in the dust (leave it in the dust) / It brings me right into your temporary love (it is only us) / With last night’s makeup still on my face (Leave your kiss on my face) / One taste of your sweetness, I feel the sugar rush.” It’s got a great in and out groove to the guitar parts that leave the audience in awe of this young band’s musical chops.

Everything seems to slow boil to the final song of “Ur Song / Lovers Of Valdaro” that starts off with a sugary-sweet vocal delivery before kicking into a different gear in the near-8 minute opus of indie rock bliss. The closing lines of “I know that you’re my best friend til the very very end / You sleep next to me all night so that I never think twice” is as heartfelt as lyrics come, and brilliantly highlight a band making all the right moves on their sophomore effort.

With Love is at its core a love letter to the band’s experiences of making music together and living life outside of the rooms they make music in as well. In order to be inspired, you must first navigate through this crazy world, get your heart broke, fall in love, and make the most of every moment in between. Snarls have surprised me on this majestic record that is as thrilling as it is tragic, as heartfelt as it’s pointed, and as perfect as an album can be from start to finish.