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One of the most annoying popular phrases making the rounds these days is “There’s a lot to unpack here.” And yet, here we are thinking it over and over as we burn through multiple listens of Snowhaus‘ kinetic new album, They Don’t End Pretty.
And that’s by design. The Massachusetts project, led by frontman and songwriter Nathan Galloway and crystallized with the addition of drummer Andrew Ring, is a culmination of so many things — lineup shuffles, life experiences, growing pains, coming-of-age moments — that it’s damned impressive Showhaus have packed it all into one fireball of an LP. But across 10 songs you can hear these themes play out, from youthful romance at the arcade on “Thumb War” to self-worth valuations on ‘Deep Sea Divers” to the probably-self-explanatary-but-really-not-explanatory-at-all “The World Is A Bitter Place, And I Am No Longer Afraid To Drive.”
It’s impossible to genre-peg Snowhaus, who release this album today (May 3) in advance of their appearance tonight at The Middle East in Cambridge and a release show Friday in Amherst, but their Bandcamp lists certain activities as “Party punx” and “shred poppers.” And that’s probably good enough a starting point for all who step into their world of calculatedly reckless musical abandon.
“Tracks on the album follow the growth of the project, us as people, and my songwriting over the past few years,” Galloway tells Vanyaland. “It’s an album of excitement, nostalgia, goofyness, new growth, sad goodbyes, moments of ecstasy as well as despair, though much of the darker tone may be masked inside the positive sounding package. Many of the songs, specifically “They Don’t End Pretty,” are inspired by the years of wild basement shows and DIY touring. Being a high energy performers with fast fun music, we’ve walked the line between DIY punk and being a ‘party’ band for years. Perhaps it’s something like ‘party/punk’ or perhaps something else entirely. More inspiration for the tunes comes from drunken antics, fiery chaos, poetic revelations, staying up through the night, sailing on my sunfish boat, getting in trouble, getting my car egg’d (we’re cool now), being a crazy goof, being in love, being out of love, haircuts, change, swimming, and the loss of people close to me.”
And like anything that attempts to encompass all the above, the process was at times trying, especially for a record that traces its genesis back roughly five or six years. No one needs to be told what kind of eternity that feels like in this hyper-immediate world of singles and likes and instant satisfaction.
“A lot of making this record has felt like an uphill battle,” Galloway admits. “Sometimes it seems like the universe is stacked against us, like people are out to get us and cause us to fail no matter what we do. With time I’ve realized that all I can do is be positive, genuine, friendly, and have a blast! It took over a year from pre-production for a whole lot of crazy ridiculous unexpected reasons to finish this record, and it marks an end to a very bizarre chapter of life.”
In the end, Galloway is relieved this release day has come, though he really sees They Don’t End Pretty as something without any sort of proper conclusion — this is just, today, on May 3, the current shape and form of it. The deadline has arrived.
“I’m so excited to put this record out, so that all our fans who have been asking for it for literal years can finally hear the songs,” he says. “When I listen to it, of course I just hear 1,000 ways I could do better, things I would change, things I’m not happy with, etc. But its a snapshot in time — and I’m really proud of it! I learned a ton. And there’s so much material just waiting for the next record to start.”
Before that begins, a celebration is in order, and tonight in Cambridge, the width and depth of They Don’t End Pretty is showcased on the stage. Let the unpacking commence.
SNOWHAUS + COLBIS THE CREATURE + CERAMIC ANIMAL + DAISYBONES :: Thursday, May 3 at The Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 7 p.m., 18-plus, $10 in advance and $13 at doors :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page