It was the summer before my moving to Antwerp, and I remember being home alone on the summer night that saw my hometown host its yearly cultural festival. I wasn’t much interested in the program but still, I headed for the small city centre in order to check on a band called Massive Magic. Energetic rock like firecrackers and party poppers blew my way from a small stage that saw three guys of around my age, playing their asses off on the songs they loved. They possessed that charisma that made you want to be in a band yourself and they made me feel I could do it, not that I would make it big, but that I at least could rock a garage and make a half-decent demo.
Within their debut full-length “Trembles & Temperance”, L.A. indie rockers Minnow carry that same spiritual energy that excited me two years ago, however channeling it all through a medium that is much more mature. In the same way as I have grown up in the two years that I spent living abroad, Minnow are young, but already scarred enough by life to be angry and confused. Prepared to draw the curtain on the world to hide in their shell with the shake of a fist and a curse of conceit. “Trembles & Temperance” feels like a garage rock epic, but curbs a surprising amount of songwriting talent behind its combination of youthful innocence and dramaturgical wretchedness.
RELEASE DATE: 11 November 2014 LABEL: Anchor Eighty Four
Stylistically Minnow artfully mix a noughties punk rock and emo attitude, with a gothic new wave dynamic of the likes of U2 and Joy Division. But that’s an incredible mouthful that doesn’t even describe the post-hardcore influences that are found in the violent chorus of “Indian Summer” and the driving guitars of “Plastic Plant Blues”. On “Trembles & Temperance” every song has a different face and every track holds a diversity of worlds and visions of its own, while at the same time, this record is as tight a unity as an album can be.
This unity is not only created by the homogenous sound of the instruments, but also by the constant quality of the terrific mood this album portrays. Minnow manage to capture a strange sense of romanticism, American, undoubtedly, but regarding a different Dream than the one that Elvis Presley embodies. “Trembles & Temperance” has more to do with the “Badlands” of Bruce Springsteen, as well as the Terrence Malick film of the same name. It is the place where the grass plains and endless skies of South Dakota surround you, looming and overwhelming; the pale tones of blue and green seeming unimpressive, but they end up hitting you harder than the brightest colours that Brazilian fruits could offer. You are reaching out towards the horizon, towards a place where you and the one you love will find a better life to be in. But you’re stuck inside in your own imperfection, in your own situation where you need to kill in order to survive, even though you’re sick of this life and its drudgery days. “Trembles & Temperance” portrays this fatalistic outlook in a magnificent way; it is the claustrophobia of growing up, of being trapped in an American Nightmare, but at the same time it all seems like a rebirth of that same America; spacious and new.
On “Trembles & Temperance”, Minnow deliver a perfect mix of melancholia and anger, violence and elegance. It’s an album that keeps on pulling me with catchy hooks and melodies, keeping me fascinated with well written lyrics and brilliant atmospheres. Young and promising bands always leave me to wait and wonder about their next piece of output, quickly forgetting about what they delivered in the first place, but with this album Minnow will definitely keep me captivated, long past the point where they release their sophomore effort.