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PAWS: Youth Culture Forever

Paws releases album Youth Culture ForeverPAWS — Youth Culture Forever

Release date(s): May 6
Our Rating: 3/5
Spec Recs: “Owls Talons Clenching,” “War Cry”
In one word: Exuberant

PAWS’ latest studio release, Youth Culture Forever, is the perfect backdrop to a wild summer night, but no more and no less. I suppose you could generalize the group as pop punk, but the majority of the album takes its cues from early OK Go and various garage rock influences. If you’re of the British invasion tendencies, then perhaps this band is just what you need to illustrate your summer adventures. Generally speaking, the album is a riot for a handful of songs, then trickles into a dull sense of sameness.

Unfortunately, the band doesn’t explore much vocally. We’re stuck hearing the same sounds with different melodies in the backdrop. However, the majority of the songs are lyrically solid, while they explore melancholy musings.

Notably, PAWS does a great job of making sadness danceable. Most of the songs on the album are under four minutes long, and some clock in at less than three minutes. “Someone New” is something we can all relate to — it’s a cheerful rage, the feeling when you see your ex in public with someone else. Pangs of the heart set to heavy drums and garage rock rumbles? Yes, please!

Owls Talons Clenching” is the third song on the album. You may not immediately recognize it, but the song’s title is actually a reference to the writings of Sylvia Plath. Her original words were, “the owl’s talons clenching and constricting my heart.” The song attempts to recreate that feeling. PAWS cries, “I don’t wanna fall in love with your heart.” And that’s something that we all understand. It’s gloomy when you listen to the lyrics, but if you tune out for just a minute, it seems more than a little cheerful.

With the exception of the last track on the album, “War Cry,” PAWS doesn’t take many musical risks on the album. After a handful of songs, it dissolves into a series of crashing symbols and repetitive sounds. It’s a rowdy time, fun for all in the beginning, but by the tenth song, I was wondering why they had made the album so long. The vocals are very similar on each track, and sometimes the meaning simply blurs into sound.

But hey, if we’re talking about “War Cry,” the band’s final, grand piece, the whole picture is a little different. This track is definitely the roughest one on the album, and it doesn’t seem to belong with the other songs. It’s blaring garage rock, a scream, heavy bass and growling guitar, with just a hint of amp feedback thrown in the mix. Heavy, ambient sound layers with guitar, bass and drums. It’s more Black Sabbath than it is pop punk, and it’s the band’s decisive risk on the album.

To sum it all up, if you listen to the first three songs on the album, followed by the final track, you’ll understand PAWS’ latest musical venture. Skip the middle, and you’re good to go.

PAWS will perform with We are Scientists at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix this Sunday, May 11. Tickets are still available online via Ticketfly.

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