Donovan Wolfington have undergone a slight lineup alteration in the midst of recording their new LP, ‘How to Treat the Ones You Love’. That being said, the new album is all about progression; certain types of changes and new approaches can instantly be spotted throughout the album. The band seems to be all about adding more and more variety to their pop punk backdrop, they’re still the raw, guitar/bass/drums garage band they’re known for being, but there’s so much more to dig about them – just when things seem simple, they prove just how unpredictable they really can be.
The first few tracks on the album are essentially straight-forward, expressive pop punk songs; with angst-fuelled lyrics, slammed-down power chords and an overall energetic tightness. In fact, ‘Basalisk’ and ‘Mercurus’ have a lot of personality, stylistically, vocally and instrumentally. ‘Hxc Punk’ follows, which suddenly makes an impact and turns the album on its head with its super-aggressive hardcore/noise style. The band continue to authentically dive into numerous rock sub-genres with the apocalyptic ‘Locust’, which is pretty much one big doom metal nightmare, throughout the song the band adds to this feeling of horror, with descriptive spoken-word passages and screechy guitar lines. The song is followed by ‘Mosquito’, which has post-rock-esque sections, with a lighter emphasis on vocals, and more guitar textures, though I’m not too sure how intentional this is, and then they’re instantly back into their casual, noise/punk-influenced sound, while maintaining a slightly unconventional instrumental approach, as guitars start to fight it out with one another.
Things get a lot tidier throughout the rest of the album, the culmination of their diversity is reached. Despite this, they still stop to salute a few influences, lyrically, Guided By Voices on ‘John Cena’ (‘cold hands touching my face’ – again, it may or may not be intentional) and stylistically, Weezer on ‘Solo Cup’.
As mentioned, the flow of the album suffers a lot more as it moves into the latter part, this is where Donovan Wolfington are at their least interesting; while still somewhat entertaining, they’re definitely at their best when they’re being adventurous. Still, they manage to keep up the ‘unkept house party’ vibe with kegs full of rebellion and edge; the personality is usually going to be there, which overall makes for what is both an entertaining and intriguing listen. The general pop-punk listener will have a lot of fun with their listenability and their occasional catchiness, and those who enjoy a more diverse sound will be very happy.
2013’s ‘Stop Breathing’ gave us glimpses of the band’s true capabilities, and with this release they have shown us all that despite the shortcomings that lineup changes can bring, there is certainly a lot of progression present, a lot of variety and a lot of heart.
‘How to Treat the Ones You Love’ is out on the 21st August 2015, via Top Shelf Records