Album Review: The Orwells ‘Remember When’
Too often, as independent music bloggers, we get lost in all of the wrong details. We occupy our minds with genres and comparisons rather than critiquing the sound itself. We stew over whether or not the band at hand is “progressing the sound.” Do they fit the scope of our overall coverage? Have they remained true to the sound that got them to this point? Or, worse yet, are they recycling that same material without any growth? Have too many other sites already covered the album?
This is about neck hairs standing firmly at attention. This is about that inexplicable shift in the seat of the pants. This is about getting to the crux of exactly why we hit skip one minute and let the track play the next. At the end of the day, this is about getting turned the fuck on. That feeling is all that any of us can hope for from the first spin of a new record.
Last week, some high school kids from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois provided the world with 12 reminders, averaging three minutes and five seconds in length, of what this is all about. They called this collection of reminders Remember When. They call themselves The Orwells.
The Orwells accomplished this feat by not knowing any better. By working under the naïve assumption that their collective voice mattered. They accomplished it without quoting Nietzsche – probably without knowing who Nietszche is. All they knew was that they hated their gym teacher and that it felt good to make loud noises in the garage.
Remember When kicks off “Lays At Rest” with 30 seconds of dueling, dissonant guitars. The intro sounds as if the band’s guitarists were warming up with their minds in completely different time zones. Yet somehow, played together, it works. This releases into a head-bobbing, hand-clapper that meditates on the angst-ridden grind of the day-to-day. Follow-up track and lead single, “Mall Rats (La La La La)” is the sound of a father beating his head against the bedroom wall while his son and friends make, what to him, sounds like incomprehensibly bad music in the basement. It’s as if the lyrics are designed to annoy. Punk rock.
From there, the listener is taken on a journey of what it means to be young again. That over-confidence that only comes from a life lived without a meaningful failure. Peer pressure. Insecurities. Experimentation. Anger and resentment toward what, and whose origin, proves impossible to pinpoint. It’s all laid out on Remember When as plain as the writing on the bathroom stall.
Track after track, from the husky gasp of “Suspended” to the jaunty bounce of “In My Bed,” The Orwells Remember When is gritty. It’s bold, and it kicks ass. Grab your copy from Autumn Tone Records ASAP.
Written by Rob Peoni