Texans Narrow Head take on 90s nostalgia with their sophomore record, ’12th House Rock’, and master it better than most.
The second that ‘Yer Song’ starts, you get pulled into their universe of sludge-y riffs, distorted vocals a la Chino Moreno (Deftones), and moody lyrics to go with it. The lack of difference from this song to the next couple is surprisingly enough not a factor of annoyance, but manages to create a sense of continuity further into the record.
The same goes for the instrumental title-track that follows that, unlike an interlude that could’ve usually easily been left off the record, belongs exactly where it’s placed and connects ‘Stuttering Stanley’ to ‘Hard To Swallow’ rather perfectly. The heavier vocals on the latter definitely elevate it to a definite stand-out track of the record, and the same goes for ‘Night Tryst’, but the increased intensity of the vocals isn’t the only thing setting them apart from the rest. They feel a lot more natural and like the band are in their true element in every aspect of what they do. Instruments, vocals, lyrics, it all works perfectly.
What follows is sadly not as up to the part. ‘Emmadazey’ seems oddly misplaced after a powerhouse like ‘Night Tryst’ and lingers on for a bit too long, which regrettably is the case for most of the tracks on the record. Most have a decent enough starting point but dip down in quality as it goes on, which is especially noticeable on album closer, ‘Evangeline Dream’. It’s also the biggest problem for the vocals throughout it all. They don’t manage to shine through enough or take the spotlight at all.
Instrumentally, ’12th House Rock’ is a stunning record and keeps surprising with groovy riffs, outstanding bass lines, and beautiful lyrical simplicity, but lacks in diversity on lyrics and a control of timing.
Reviving the past easily becomes a redundant game to play for most bands. Narrow Head manage to give it a new spin and, with a few minor tweaks, could perfect it.