Howardian’s ‘A Smurf At Land’s End’ Is An Art Rock Dream Come True
Fronted by Japanther’s very own Ian Vanek, Howardian encompasses a sound spectrum like no other. Not only will listeners find themselves immersed in the experimental side of music where melodic piano pieces are interlaced with electronic blips, this art rock band will have you shaking along to their intricate thought out songs.
“Over the Laptop” is a warm welcome into the five-piece bands latest LP, A Smurf At Land’s End. “Front Street” is where the rock sound comes in and it is quite nice, and you can hear what I believe to be Sonic the Hedgehog collecting rings in the background. An unusual juxtaposition only adds to a unique sound. The next track is a bizarre song I find myself singing along to. “Nature’s Teachings” falters between soft rock before it progresses with a jamming beat. The instrumental, “I’m the Ocean,” is an actual favorite of mine. It says a lot without saying much at all, the music washing over in a lounging haze.
“Cap’n Such n’ Such” has the making of a classic rock song and is deserving of a music video filmed with a football game happening. Vocally, “Washington, NJ” leaps across the page, enhancing the high. The kitschy “No Nothin’ Bae” is a melancholic piece with a noticeable piano, heavy guitar licks and a wolf howling. The beginning of “On the Run” is similar to an 80s song I’m unable to name and it is distractedly good. The song seems to reflect that as bad things happen to never waver from being a good person.
“Waiting in the Wangs” is a laughingly good rock piece and it becomes memorable once you hear the band sing out they would deal with someone’s bullshit again and again. The hesitation at the beginning of “Fulton Mall” drew me in, and then it sounds as if it became a confident song as other instruments chime in and become a fulfilled moment on the album. The strange electronic noises not only add to the sound overall, it makes it more understanding of the group’s planned project. “Cinnamon Rolls” is a return to the rock sound while “Graven Fuel” rounds it out with a mysterious tune that includes scratching and vocal excerpts. “Did you like it,” a voice repeats before it’s distorted. It was indeed a new experience for me.
Whether or not Howardian is trying to make a statement with their well-crafted effort remains to be seen. It is nevertheless an exciting piece that is not bound to your usual rock music or even an art project, it brings the best of both together. While it is an experimental piece, one can’t help but listen again to the electronic pieces that find a niche in a majority of the music.