“Walked down to the Walgreens and bought myself something to drink / sugar messes with me but not as bad as when you leave” sing Chlo White and Riley Hall on Snarls’ debut album ‘Burst‘. I think back to the summer of 2017, I have maybe $100 in my bank account but I’m at the Walgreens several blocks from my friend’s apartment trying to buy something caffeinated before a long retail shift, some of the only human interaction I’ll have all day. “I think I’ve lost my marbles” they continue between walls of snare. Who among us hasn’t lost it so completely? Struggled to shower and leave the house? The band is transparent in their experiences. And it’s not hard to see yourself in the album’s growing pains. Snarls blossom as glittering protagonists in a coming-of-age album. “Twenty seems further than it oughta be” they sing on ‘Twenty’. Further from childhood or further from adulthood? The track moves through a gilded reverb with a somber voice. Snarls are always peering over the ledge, questioning what has gotten them to this moment and trying to get a glimpse of what’s next. White and Mick Martinez slide the guitars down before Max Martinez’s drumming flares, “I’m not who I thought I was gonna be”.
The band has an emo ethos with a shiny coating- more shimmer than twinkle accompanying their constant series of emotional declarations. Lyrics like “I can’t quit you, baby!’ on ‘Walk in the Woods’ take a pop command and wouldn’t sound out of place alongside Carly Rae Jepsen’s brand of vulnerability. Snarls move through a headrush of feelings, dynamic in their ability to shift tone and change texture throughout the album. They’re at their most controlled on ‘Hair’, a grunge tinged track. They briefly pull back the rhythm to catch your attention, “have you got nothing clever to say?” they taunt. It’s a controlled burn with a heavier bass sound and the drums punching up the latter half of the track. The instruments and lyrics act with equal bark and bite, “you can’t tell me what to do” they repeat.
On the jangling and sticky ‘What’s It Take’ White and Hall accuse a distant lover they can’t seem to escape “…you like the taste of blood on your teeth”. They slow down the track with a slurry guitar interlude that would act as the storm before the breakdown on a pop punk album but instead precedes an eruption of dreamy layered synth. “What’s it take to be touched by you?” they beg, knowing the answer is always more complicated than it should be. But they have the courage to ask for help, White and Hall’s voices rise and catch air, “how do you fall like that?”, they sing on ‘Better Off’ and I think back to my broke summer where I didn’t even know how to say something was wrong in the first place.
‘Burst’ is sprawling, bubbling with empathy. Snarls write lyrics to carry in your pocket like change, sifting through your jacket you realize you’re glad to find them. This is the sunny side of alternative, providing a soft landing for the heaviest of burdens. “Someone say when all of this will end” they demand to no one in particular on ‘All of This Will End’ as the bass rises up to match the kicking drums and straining vocals. They easily go from swooning and woozy to unfiltered and existential. There’s a beauty in listening to ‘Burst’, hearing it flourish. It catches the most pungent moments of joy and sadness and sinks its teeth in. Listening to Snarls feels like stepping into the sunshine after not having been able to leave your bed for days or the release that comes with crying into your pillow. It’s best listened to on a walk through the city or on a long drive when it can best expand. ‘Burst’ moves through the fluidity of life with you, seeping into every moment.