With their third outing Texas-based Narrow Head have created a body of music that if you were there, will well and truly spin you back in time to the mid-nineties. And if you weren’t there but nonetheless love the alternative rock sound of the time, then you’ll also find yourself intriguingly transported back to the era when baggy clothes and dirty scuzzy guitar riffs were the sign of the times. And on top of that Moments Of Clarity (Church Road Records) may well be considered a classic today, was it released some 25-30 years ago amongst the influences that it clearly wears on its sleeve.
And the record stands out today, as it lulls you into a sense of security before changing style and introducing heavier elements where the band sounds on their peak for me, before then throwing in a highly experimental closer. So the album opens with ‘The Real’ and a fuzzy grunge riff, with the vocal of Jacob Duarte sounding somewhere between an early Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, and an early Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. There is a lighter nineties indie alternative rock style to the sound, which continues into ‘Moments Of Clarity’ invoking memories from the likes of Weezer, Placebo, and The Lemonheads. It’s clear from the first couple of tracks that Narrow Head can write one hell of a catchy riff with highly engaging vocal hooks, and then on ‘Sunday’ they introduce a Deftones-esq riff which more than hints at what’s to come.
‘Trepnation’ kicks like a mule with dirtier down-tuned guitars and a heavy chugging bass, and my attention has well and truly been captured by the change in tone. ‘Breakup Song’ is melancholic with a lovely entwine between the main riff and a rolling bass, while ‘Fine Day’ is another sweet heavy cut with crunching guitars.
On ‘Carline’ Narrow Head reverts back to the more melodic feel of the album’s first quarter, but from here it changes tact once again with the darker muddy sounding ‘The World Sunday’ and the explosive ‘Gearhead’, which slams into a late-nineties era Deftones style, with Duarte channeling a shoe-gaze Chino Moreno vocal. And with the first screams on the album laid down before a furious outro of impressive drumming and heavy distortion … More of this, please!
And the band delivers on ‘Flesh & Solitude’ with the further subtle use of screams in amongst the heavy intoxicating music with a beautiful outro of avant-garde percussive cacophony. The aptly titled ‘The Comedown’ follows with lush strumming and kind of a Pearl Jam flavour, which gradually builds to the climax of ‘Soft To Touch’ where a mischievous guitar line perfectly plays over electronic beats. I love the way this album twists and turns from the indie rock style into a heavier alternative beast, before turning full circle and then going completely leftfield with the use of electronica. And these changes in tone create a real album experience which should definitely be absorbed as one. This is where rock music needs to be, for me, in 2023.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10