Gnarwolves - Chronicles of Gnarnia
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Record Label: Pure Noise
Growing up isn't easy. The older you get, the more cynical and critical you become about life's ups and downs. The Gnarwolves approach to punk rock is to dive into that introspect headfirst, with an energetic teenage hunger split three ways. That hunger is what you get in the neon-bright album covers, pizza party indulgences, the solemn skate-till-you-die oaths, and having stoner revelations about fictitious animals (see: gnarwolf). But what's truly uplifting about Pure Noise debut Chronicles of Gnarnia is that it documents all of the above, ensuring that you note every blunder and triumph in the Gnarwolves timeline in the exact order that they remembered it. Absolutely nothing in this compilation is surprising, because the band wants you to see them for who they are and not some marketed commodity of what they should be.
Let's start from the beginning with 2011's Fun Club LP. Not only does the title immediately make you assume "party music!", but the names of some of the tracks ("Party Jams", "No Time For Old Bones)" are a salute to the youthful at heart. The content itself communicates gutsier messages than expected, however. The former track romanticizes hurling bottles into the streets, while the latter speaks of tying a noose around one's neck. We hear the darkened crunch of a guitar then a layered harmonic wail mid-song ("Decay"), and it's very telling of just how sappy Gnarwolves can get. 2012's CRU is stitched together in a more explanatory way than Fun Club. The riffs are even more sensible, the harmonies craftier, and the lyrics are fuller narrations. Here they perfected the science of singalongs, as evidenced on track "We Want The Whip" or during the Weezer-esque chorus of "History Is Bunk". But what stays consistent is the trio's recognizable sound. Gnarwolves don't magically transform into Title Fight. They don't become Basement. Gnarwolves remain Gnarwolves.
This resilience is wholly evident in their 2013 Funemployed release on ramming-speed introduction "Melody Has Big Plans". "We're damaged but we will not cave in" is yelled in unison, and there are hints of A Wilhelm Scream-inspired vocal work with occasional hardcore riff patterns. "Limerence" is perhaps the truest representation of the Gnarwolves state-of-mind, where a line like: "Money or no / I've got my head held high and somewhere to go" keeps it the most memorable because it's surrounded by chipper yells of "woah-oh".
Chronicles of Gnarnia is not just a measurement of tales over time, but how genuine the band is. They don't care to play by the rules of typical pop punk as their influences stretch between emo, hardcore, folk punk and alternative pop. They refuse to live by life's rules, yet they make sure to not take it for granted. Chronicles of Gnarnia has a very monstrous sound, and for being the product of only three lads from a "grey town", that's no small feat.