The Cowls wow us romantics with a third album in three years
The Cowls are set to release their third full length album in three years – Blank Romantic – taking the spirit of their debut album, giving it a shake, and dispensing ten blistering tracks.
Having started as a collective of indie rockers on the NYC music scene, Damion Jurrens’ The Cowls evolved into a solo, electronic-based project. After settling on America’s West Coast, he produced a storm of electronic-indie-rock infused work, releasing sixteen tracks over three months and reaching out to AnalogueTrash during the autumn of 2018. His debut album for the label, Certain Calculations, swiftly followed in January 2019.
A second, more sonically experimental album Should It Feel Like This? arrived twelve months later, with 2020 also giving rise to new side projects Sidehack and Purvirnituq – the latter a collaboration with STOCKSNSKINS labelmate and bassist Rich Skinner. His creative urge still unquenched; further recording has resulted in Blank Romantic – The Cowls’ third full length album, out on the 30th of October, 2020 via AnalogueTrash in digital and limited edition cassette formats.
The Cowls draw on the indie spectrum’s funkier side and slam it together with incredibly enthralling electronica. It’s no wonder Damion’s back catalogue has drawn favourable comparisons with Talking Heads, Hot Chip, Beck, and LCD Soundsystem. A further nuance is revealed with each listen, and another musical reverence is displayed in the style and structure of each of his releases.
The album kicks off with the pacey With a Stupid Face, a hook-laden opener to get your attention, before feeding into the staccato bass of Hassle Me Like It’s 1985. The Cowls certainly have a knack for the hypnotic as shown in Obsequious; its bass and melody drawing you in and spitting you out at the end with aural images of a far eastern adventure, possibly ending with a visit to a souk or opium den depending on your tastes.
Damion says about Blank Romantic: “This album was the first time in my life that I was able to write and record a set of songs in a single go over the course of a week. Rather than my usual process of stealing time in the wee hours, I recorded in broad daylight at a leisurely pace.”
“The result was the most consistent and cohesive set of songs I’ve ever put together. Every song started as a bass line. I forced myself to record each bass line as a whole take – no punching in, no copying and pasting – to maintain a certain human imperfection. I kept the arrangements relatively sparse, which gave each track a little more breathing room. The guitar only crept out a few times, and only when absolutely necessary.”
“When I was done each day, I would watch punk rock documentaries or listen to the Human League. It was an odd and solitary week, but also pretty great.”
There’s a raw edge to Blank Romantic, one that reflects Damion’s recording process and the live performances of The Cowls – so much so, that closing track Under My Tongue is highly representative of the band’s more stripped back live experience.
Blank Romantic is an album to enjoy and savour. If you check your thesaurus under ‘prolific,’ it now reads ‘see Damion Jurrens.’ Probably..