If you've read any of my reviews on amazon before, you'll know that I don't throw my five star reviews around to anything short of a classic. And this certainly is a classic.
I've got to say that this album completely blindsided me. Their first two albums were uninspiring to me, really, although both had a handful of brilliant songs, I wasn't a big enough fan to buy them for myself. However, having heard a snatch of lead single 'Ain't No Easy Way,' I bought this record on a whim. I've never been so happy to be this surprised.
Howl is a truly brilliant record, one that should, by rights, have blown its competition out of the water. Almost entirely acoustic, the songs here are scarcely produced and sparsely arranged, and have to stand up purely on their own strengh. Four of the songs are Dylanesque solo numbers, recorded hunched over a sole mirophone with just a guitar for company. They are astonishing.
Outside of that, is the bar-room rocker of the aforementioned 'Ain't No Easy Way,' the dreamlike, woozy title track and the slow-burning closer 'The Line' to contend with. Just about every song here is worth listening to. Only 'The Promise' feels a little syrupy, but it still lasts repeated listens, even if you just skip it once in a while.
I can't say enough good things about this album. A complete about face for this black-clad band, this is the best album you could have bought last year, or even this year.