Dreamy electro-pop is the order of the day with Howlite’s latest EP Not Here.
With previous releases drawing comparisons to London Grammar and BANKS, it’s fair to say that the trio have big shoes to fill. Luckily, what Howlite presents on Not Here is a well-polished collection of soaring, vocal-driven electronic tracks, ready to soundtrack a sweaty Australian summer.
Opening track ‘Stranger’ takes its time deciding the direction it will take, really hitting its stride in the pre-chorus. It’s a track that focuses on the sultry sass of Thom, with the minimalist drum pad beats and synth chords taking a backseat to her vocal runs. The swirling backing “oohs” and “aahs” add an ethereal level to the track, with an echo on Thom creating the feel of a performance in a church or empty hall.
‘Canary’ encapsulates how detailed Howlite’s production is, with layers upon layers creating a vast textured soundscape. Frontwoman Alison Thom harmonises with herself over, building to a mighty crescendo in the tail end of the song. Despite the cacophony, ‘Canary’ manages to stay on the right side of overwhelming, retaining the delicacy of Thom’s voice to the end as we roll into the slower ‘Infancy’. Probably the weakest track of the six, ‘Infancy’ is still a strong offering from the band, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of ‘Stranger’ or ‘Blood Type’.
‘Reducer’ is the closest Howlite come to folk on Not Here. It begins with a minimal first verse, before Thom slips into a chorus full of swelling harmonies. If not for the electronic blips and persistent drum beat of this chorus, it could easily be something experimental from Maggie Rogers or Julia Stone.
‘Olympia’ strays into darker pop territory with its dark, pulsing synth lines and Thom’s syncopated, at times almost spoken-word, vocals. It sets the scene well for the following track, closer ‘Blood Type’, which aims for movie soundtrack status. With a string part and oompah bass line that wouldn’t be out of place in the next Birds of Prey film, it’s a triumphant end to what is overall a great electronic-pop EP. The confidence and care Howlite have put into Not Here shines through, signposting them as a band to keep an eye on over the next few years.