Donovan Wolfington Pull No Punches With 'How To Treat The Ones You Love'
New Orleans rockers Donovan Wolfington's latest album, How to Treat the Ones You Love, provides an intense nose dive into some of the most refreshing, sludgy and angsty punk I've heard in a long time.
The group's debut album, Stop Breathing, was released in 2013 and brought to the table an interesting mix of pop punk and indie melodies with strong distorted hooks and intense riffs accompanied by gruff screamed vocals. Donovan Wolfington's latest release brings all this to the table but with more finesse and refinement this time around.
The band shows their versatility as the album spans through a number of different genres over its 13 tracks and the erratic shifting between these styles leads to an a roller coaster of an album whereby catchy pop punk chords progressions become meshed alongside crushing hardcore punk. The track "The Locust" for example is reminiscent of the grungy 1980's doom metal sound and the slow discordant progression of the chords bring the album chilling sense of desperation.
However, songs such as "Ollie North" and "Mosquito" are clearly more inspired by the fast paced three chord riffs of albums such as Nimrod and even in some cases Title Fight's "The Last Thing You Forget." The more indie oriented side of the album certainly feels smoother as gentler riffs are paired with quaint more emo influenced vocals ,but still carry Donovan Wolfington's signature edge.
While this combination of styles is certain to catch your interest at the start of the album it ultimately fails to maintain pace into the second half of the album as some of the riffs and the over distorted guitars tend to become repetitive and lack the same excitement they did at the beginning of the album. Any short comings contained in the instrumental side of How to Treat the Ones you Love are made up for by the band's lyricism.
Donovan Wolfington's lyrics are consistently raw and self deprecating, yet similarly uplifting, telling of life lessons learned through hardship and commitment. The faster songs carry with them a passion and anger which represents a massive middle finger to the very real struggles the band have been through in the past few years, with lots of references to abuse of both drugs and alcohol which perfectly mirror the sense of anxiety created by the noisy high pitched guitars.
The vocals of singers Matt and Neil tell a strong narrative of the struggles the group have encountered throughout their career. Namely the unexpected death of their close friend and original producer Rick Naiser. Though How to Treat the Ones You Love's lack of flow creates a slightly jarring experience, this is a strong record which pulls no punches. It's full of passion, anger and frustration and ultimately is the most solid Donovan Wolfington album to date.
To find out more about Donovan Wolfington click here.
To visit the Donovan Wolfington Facebook page click here.
Words by Robert O'Meara