Earlier this month, the Boston based band Quarrels released a new album entitled Admit and last Friday night I got the chance to see them play through the whole record live at O’Brien’s Pub. Their set for the night mirrored the album’s track listing, as sort of an unofficial release show. I had managed to get a couple listens of the record in before the show, but the live experience really brought the album into my most recent listening rotation. I have to say that Admit really is a solid step forward for the group, mainly due to the fact that it feels as though they have fleshed out their style in a much fuller way. For instance, their math influence feels more prominent (as evidenced by almost every song intro) and the vocals are much more fine-tuned and connected to the instrumentals. The eerie atmosphere this group creates through their vocals, choice of guitar effects, lyrical content seems to be here to stay, something to which I cannot complain as it suits them so well.
The first released track of the album was “Window Neighbor”, no doubt due to the fact that it completely jams. The guitar maintains an enjoyable bounciness which balances between feeling like gentle waves and heavy thrashes in transitions that are cleverly cued and fueled by the singer’s vocal energy. I love the way that the drums breakthrough at these deliberately chaotic moments, supported each time by the bass. Another great track is “Heather”, which opens with a riff that must have sounded cute at its initial conception but had been muffled and retooled for a spookier feel. However, almost as soon as you think the riff has been spent, they tease you along with the promise of a genuine thrash, but instead they hit you with the bubblier version of the riff right as the buildup comes to a crest. It’s moments like this that I really appreciate on the record; where their hardcore influence shifts eloquently into math. It’s relieving but at the same time paradoxically unsatisfying.
From the harsh post-hardcore vocals to the mathy guitar, this album is very well put together and balanced. I can’t really accurately compare with anything I’ve heard before, which is great because authenticity is integral to attracting fans. Since first seeing them in an Allston basement, I’ve gotten to see Quarrels play live two extra times, and I’m really glad they made such a great edition to their catalog.