Album review: Narrow Head – Moments Of Clarity

Texan dream-grunge outfit Narrow Head surpass themselves on cathartic third album, Moments Of Clarity.

Album review: Narrow Head – Moments Of Clarity
Olly Thomas

How good does it feel?’ asks Narrow Head frontman Jacob Duarte on The Real, the first track on Moments Of Clarity. It’s a fitting question for an album with a sensual sound that draws you inexorably into its warm cocoon. The Houston band’s dreamy sonics will be familiar to anyone who heard their last album, 2020’s 12th House Rock, as will their primary influences, chiefly the woozy grandeur of Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins and the shoegaze-adjacent post-hardcore of bands like Hum and Failure. This time, though, there’s a stronger sense of melody at play, along with a deeper well of emotion.

The brooding lyrics of songs like the title-track and Trepanation reflect hard times in Jacob’s personal life, with the album offering a panoply of coping methods, from hiding away to howling with rage. Much of this is expressed via dream-grunge ennui, often sounding like a prettier counterpart to NOTHING, but there is variety here too. Sunday and Fine Day up the tempo, while the provenance of The Word’s wonky noises can be traced back to shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine. Heaviness makes its presence felt elsewhere: the rumbling grooves of Gearhead evoke the likes of Deftones or Quicksand, while the relentless Flesh & Solitude boasts an almost industrial quality. Perhaps the biggest surprise arrives on closing track Soft To Touch, its shuffling breakbeats moving Narrow Head into unexpected trip hop turf, a stylistic curveball which is at least in keeping with the preponderance of ’90s references throughout.

To answer Jacob’s question, how good does it feel? Like a hearty embrace from a band proving themselves capable of great things, mate. Thanks for asking.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Smashing Pumpkins, Hum, Deftones

Moments Of Clarity is released on February 10 via Church Road

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