There’s something satisfying about listening to a band’s new album and noticing not necessarily a change but rather a maturity in their sound. Such a feeling is evident in regards to Chicago rock band The Orwell’s third and newest album Terrible Human Beings.
The group, composed of Mario Cuomo (vocals), Dominic Corso (guitar), Matt O’Keefe (guitar), Grant Brinner (bass), and Henry Brinner (drums), released their debut album Remember When back in 2012, just as they were finishing high school. Their progression and rise in attention since then has been an interesting ride to watch. Their sophomore record Disgraceland, released in 2014, attributed to the possible idea that they were just another garage rock band of messy teenagers, yet they had potential of contributing something more. Terrible Human Beings is that “something,” as the album is a more refined work that doesn’t give up the band’s boyish ways and sound wholeheartedly just yet.
In a recent interview with Billboard magazine, O’Keefe said that for the album the band wanted to produce “mutilated pop songs,” and that seems to be a fitting way to describe them. There are a few tracks that are reminiscent of Disgraceland, mixed with sounds of pop, ensuring not to fully mask the band’s signature rock sound. Particular songs like “They Put a Body in the Bayou” and “Ring Pop” aid in capturing the bands unfiltered high energy. There are also tracks that have rhythmic and lyrical bits that are fascinating to listen to and are rather individualistic, even just compared to other songs on the album. An example of such a song is “Black Francis,” which gives reference to the frontman of The Pixies and has a very Beastie Boys vibe to it with the “call-and-response” verses and an “all up your face” feel.
As mentioned earlier, the maturation noticed of the band is evident, particularly so in the lyrics, especially with a recurring theme of (as the album entitles) “terrible human beings”: individuals obsessed with a toxic culture and oblivious to the world around them. Take for example “Fry,” a jumpy rock song with intricate guitar parts, in which Cuomo belts “There must be something in the water/They’re all obsessing with mass order/Fillmore topping entertainers/Baghdad, that is shitty flamers/TV nation, channel changers” There’s also “Vacation,” which shuns those who are apathetic to the world around them (“Turn off your television/Your permission kills civilians/No one can feel your vision/They’re on vacation, masturbating”).
Terrible Human Beings is an album that has promise of being looked back on in a couple years as iconic, with its dynamism and a sound that’s like if The Strokes and The Vaccines had a rambunctious child. Regardless, until that point in time has been reached, a recommended thing to do is simply appreciate the album for its honest and fairly polished Rock ‘n’ Roll raunchiness, whether that be by rocking out at one of The Orwells upcoming shows or by blasting the album in your bedroom for your whole neighborhood to hear.