BIG STIR RECORDS is extraordinarily proud to announce the October 30 release of the new album from Cumbria, England' s MYLITTLEBROTHER. HOWL, featuring 10 brand new tracks exemplifying the the melodic, harmony-laden and deeply-felt literate pop for which the band is renowned, is up for pre-order on CD and download now at www.bigstirrecords.com/store – and everywhere music is sold and streamed – now!
Heralded by the singles “Janey” (the Record of the Week on BBC Cumbria) and the just-out (and soaringly indelible) title track, HOWL is a much darker affair than 2014’s If We Never Came Down, the band's previous long-player. But it retains mylittlebrother’s trademark ear-catching melodies and lush harmonies and expands them with the exuberant live sound that band had honed onstage in the times leading up to the 2020 pandemic. Recorded in 2019, in what seems like a much simpler time, many of the songs have a sometimes unnerving prescience for the present.
WILL HARRIS, the band's charismatic frontman and primary songwriter, explains the record's origins: “It’s an album, and by that I mean it’s planned as a musical journey. It was largely written during a pretty rough period for me, and it reflects that. Howl takes you through hope, joy, anger, fear, loss and, ultimately, back to hope again, but all with catchy tunes!”
Harris's talent for marrying sweepingly memorable melodies with dry wit and genuinely visceral heartbreak remains the cornerstone of mylittlebrother, but Howl is very much a collaboration of minds, as the songs are imbued with a new depth, dirt and cohesion by the band. Will (piano, lead vocals) is joined by DAN MASON on guitar/vocals, ROBIN HOWSON on bass/vocals and SIMON BUTTRESS on drums/vocals. As a unit, they've mastered the art of creating harmonious, insanely catchy songs, swathed in vocal hooks, using driving electric guitars and piano to deliver upbeat indie-rock that frequently hides the cynical, sometimes bittersweet, darker undertones.
The band, based in Cumbria (Northern England), had been honing their live sound across the UK, with gigs including the British Sea Power-curated Krankenhaus festival, a headline slot at Kendal Calling, and gigs supporting the likes of Glasvegas and Juniore. The communal, celebratory energy of the live group is instantly winning : it was a mesmerizing set from the band in Liverpool back in 2016 that converted Big Stir Records founders Christina and Rex into permanent mlb fanatics – and that chemistry is all over Howl. But with the live music scene which fuels the band all but shut down in their native UK, that onstage synergy is channeled into a set of songs which, for all their sweeping and sweet melodic charms, deftly explore a melancholic and occasionally bitter emotional landscape that resonates to an eerie degree with the outer world of 2020. “Sometimes you've got to sacrifice your mind, or you'll grow tired of all the thinking, ” sings Harris on the anthemic opening track “Play Hard”, and he could be speaking for any or all of us.
Consider also the opening lines of the driving, 6/8-time title track: “I thought you were ill, so I gave all the blood I could spare, all the blood I could spill.” And Will's admonition to “take some responsibility for this f***ed up life you lead” (on the deceptively jaunty singalong “Responsibility”) could just as well apply to any number of world leaders – or their followers – as the difficult romantic partner one might infer.
It all might reach its cathartic zenith near the end of Howl's sec0nd act, on the brash playout of the ever-shifting mini-epic “Chicago” with its harrowing, impassioned refrain “Because I'm stuck in little England, and I'm ill, annoyed and down!” The song's intense maelstrom of guitar gives way to the gorgeous piano balladry of “Start” which tempers the prevailing sadness and anger with the gentle encouragement of the chorus: “You've got to be the start of things”. That same hope for new beginnings, however tentative, also gives life to the lovely “The Time Of Our Lives”, which might be the quintessential embodiment of the mylittlebrother ethos: yes, we most likely made a pretty big mess of everything, but there was plenty of beauty along the way, and we can put it back together and try again... doesn't that sound like just what we need to hear right now?
Sonically, the record displays influences as diverse as Dennis Wilson, Teenage Fanclub, The Coral, Julian Cope, Grandaddy and The Triffids, and while its themes and insights are universal, they're saturated with the unique spirit of the group's native Cumbria. "There’s something happening in the Lake District that is really very special,” says the UK's Louder Than War of the band. And with these new recordings, they're poised to take that “something” to a wider world. Listen in as mylittlebrother lets loose with HOWL... it's a sound that will remain in your ears well beyond the present times from which it offers an unflinching but hope-filled escape.