Review Summary: post-gaze clarity
Clarity is a pretty word. It evokes a sense of pleasant coolness; it reminds me of a fresh breeze on a warm day. Narrow Head’s music has never felt particularly cool, fresh, or clear
. As excellent as the band’s take on grungegaze is, they sure do find themselves in a persistent fog of thick riffs, decidedly less thick vocals, and some of the thickest nostalgia this side of Y2K. As such, the album title Moments of Clarity
may imply a change of pace for the band: perhaps Vans aren’t the only things to be gazed at?
Nah, absolutely not. If anything, Narrow Head’s third full length leaves the more expansive tendencies of 2020’s 12th House Rock
behind in favour of more straightforward grooves
. Admittedly, the band are at their best when they lock into a deliciously outdated Hum-esque riff and construct a song around it - look no further than the uncharacteristically ferocious ‘Gearhead’, or the way opening cut ‘The Real’ breathes new life into each repeated chorus solely by reinventing one hypnotising melody. However, large chunks of Moments of Clarity
verge on (or ever so slightly over) the cusp of monotony as a result of this stubbornly groove-focused approach. It’s not a monotony I necessarily mind, as a certified simp for anything that can be described with the word ‘gaze’, but it does mean that the record’s highlights wind up overly immersed in the shadow of the album
unit and don’t shine like they should. Moreover, while the songs mentioned overhead as well as ‘Flesh & Solitude' are undeniably excellent, there are no standouts of the ‘Cool in Motion’ calibre to be found here.
As such, Moments of Clarity
leaves me wishing for a bit more in spite of its clearly cohesive consistency. Where the band could have opted to explore some of the more expansive and intriguing elements of their sound, they instead double down on the predictable-yet-enjoyable tones of nostalgaze. Mind you, Narrow Head on autopilot are still miles ahead of the average take on this sound: moreover, the straightforward and frequently catchy nature of these songs might just propel them beyond the confines of shady dive bars with fuzz pedal-lined walls and approximately sixteen attendees obtaining clarity by staring at their Vans. All clear.