The Howlers have released their debut album ‘What You’ve Got To Lose to Win It All’. The self-proclaimed ‘desert-rock’ trio from East-London have enriched this album with a fusion of soul, pop, rock and folk. Although the album is out now, it did not come without one hell of a journey to create. One which may be considered a bit too challenging for a first album.



The Howlers’ Journey 

At the beginning of 2022, The Howlers had a sold-out tour after recording their ‘Further Down the Line’ EP. Since then, they have had a fairly quick rise to success. Despite this success, the trio were dealing with a lot behind the scenes. Individual band members were under intense stress due to personal loss, illness, and grief. Lead singer Adam Young lost two family members during the pandemic. He also suffered a series of alarming health emergencies which almost put a stop to the band’s progress.

“I had two strokes in the space of two months” says Young, “mostly because I was carrying everything on my shoulders.” These stresses, along with others, almost marked the end of The Howlers.

Luckily, things changed for the better when drummer Tom Triggs came along. After his previous band separated, Triggs was looking for another opportunity. The timing was almost like it was fate. He loved the sound, fitting into the band ‘like a round peg in a round hole’.  

The Album

After the honourable mention of the journey it took to create this album, let’s move on to the music. The album kicks off with an instrumental intro that sounds like it was from an old 1950s western movie. The use of the sounds of trumpets makes you think Zoro is about to appear on his horse. Straightaway the band are living up to the term ‘dessert-rock‘. 

How Long’ is an extremely catchy and flowy first track. A sure easy listen which hooks your attention. ‘I Need Your Love’ and ‘To Make a King’ follow the same steady flow of indie-rock melodies and uplifting sound. ‘To Make a King’ really hones in on that Western vibe with lyrics such as “I’m the King of the one horse town”; but also emphasises the theme of loneliness that are heard throughout the record. 

El Dorado‘ is next up, which is actually a song that stood out to Tom Trigger. It is the first single to be released from their new album with Trigger drumming. “The song speaks volumes” says Tom, “it’s all about trying to find your way to a better place and going through the journey of ups and downs to get there”. The album title was actually taken from lyrics in the song. 

We continue on with tracks such as the well-loved track ‘Further Down The Line’ and ‘Cowboys Don’t Cry’ which slow the pace down. ‘Cowboys Don’t Cry’ is a beautiful melancholy song which begins with smooth acoustics and is personally one of my favourites on the record. Knowing the journey, lyric “I am my mother’s child, may prove that I’m not a cowboy and I do cry sometimes”

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting‘ is similar in this sense which may stir some emotion in the listener. With its delicate acoustics and soft vocals from Young with themes of loss and love are clear throughout this song. 

Lady Luck‘, ‘On The Run (Over You)‘  and ‘Once Again‘ bring back the angst and the momentum. Quite a juxtaposition. After listening to these you would think they fit perfectly in a modern-day Clint Eastwood flick. The transition between ‘Once Again‘ ‘Matador Interlude‘ and ‘Nothing to Lose’ is as smooth as butter and so pleasing to the ear. ‘Nothing to Lose‘ is a high-energy track with heavy guitar and drums adding a level of attitude to the record.

The last two tracks ‘When the Flowers Bloom Again’ and ‘Take it Easy’ take us on our journey out of the wild west. The closing tracks bring us to the end of our journey in the desert. Although themes of loss are throughout, these songs speak about how life will get better again with the lines “Like winter comes to an end. When the flowers bloom again”.

The curtains are drawn to a close. The end credits are shown and ‘Take it Easy‘ is playing, the Western is at an end. The perfect last track on a record. ‘You take it easy now‘, is saying goodbye.

The East-London trio have produced a solid debut. The struggle to write and record this record has truly been worth the time and patience to get here. The lyrics have depth and the music is catchy. What more could a cowboy want. 

What You’ve Got To Lose To Win It All is OUT NOW (17/05/2024)


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