Nothing less than excellent.
Label: Topshelf Records
Released: 21st August 2015
You know those days when you wake up and just think, “Fuck it”? Donovan Wolfington feel you. Not only has that sentiment been echoed in their slacker-punk sound for a few years now, but bearing in mind the difficulties the New Orleans trio while faced recording this, their sophomore effort – real difficulties, too, seeing the untimely death of the album’s original producer and friend of the band, Rick Nasier midway through the album’s recording, as well as losing two members along the way – there has to have been times where “fuck it” seemed like an appealing option.
Rather than taking the easy option though, the band soldiered through and got the record done – a good thing, too because the result is nothing less than excellent.
Despite being laced with some genuine pain along the way, the majority of ‘How To Treat The Ones You Love’ retains the laid-back burnout charm (in a Freaks and Geeks sort of way) that’s become the band’s trademark. Even the album’s most frank moments of self-doubt, as seen on ‘Basalisk’ and the Weezer-esque ‘Solo Cup’, are delivered with an impossibly cool air of nonchalance.
It’s not all bouncy songs about getting high and watching wrestling though (despite the less-than-subtle nods to both of those activities throughout), with some serious curveballs thrown in the shape of ‘Hxc Punk’, which is, well, a hardcore punk song – a bloody good one at that – and ‘Locust’, an uncharacteristically sludgy affair with an unnerving locust-related monologue spoken on top. It’s almost jarring to hear those shifts, but given the general feelings of self-doubt and frustration expressed on the album, a few moments of lashing out and getting a bit weird isn’t really all that far-fetched.
Those moments aside, though, Donovan Wolfington know that it’s hook-driven punk rock that they do best, and as the joyfully catchy ‘John Cena’ (told you they liked wrestling) and the sarcastic ‘Manchac’ demonstrate, they’re getting better and better at it. While last year’s ‘Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark’ EP suggested that the then-new Topshelf signings might be one of the most promising acts on the label, ‘How To Treat The Ones You Love’ resolutely delivers on that promise and places them firmly alongside Joyce Manor and Sorority Noise at the very top of their genre. Ryan De Freitas