Black Cat

Never Shout Never

(Digital Download - Loveway Records / Warner Bros. #)

Review by Matt Collar

Starting out as the solo vehicle for kooky bedroom glam-folkie Christofer Drew, Missouri-based Never Shout Never evolved over six albums into an eclectic collaborative rock outfit. With the group's seventh studio album, 2015's Black Cat, Drew and Never Shout Never have crafted their most mature and sonically sophisticated album to date. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse), Black Cat finds Never Shout Never pulling together many of the disparate influences that have shaped their sound, from confessional emo-folk to arty psychedelic rock to punky dance-leaning pop. The album follows on Never Shout Never's introspective, largely acoustic album Recycled Youth, which found them reworking songs from previous albums. While Black Cat is a much more robust production, replete with electric and electronic flourishes, one can easily see the through line of creative growth between the two releases. In a sense, Black Cat filters the exuberant rock sound of the band's 2013 effort Sunflower through the prism of Herring's expert production lense. Cuts like the leadoff "Hey! We OK" and the driving "Awkward Conversations (Best Day)" borrow the fuel-injected '70s power pop craftsmanship of classic bands like the Cars and Cheap Trick. Elsewhere, with infectious anthems like "Fone Tag" and the wide-eyed "Woohoo," Never Shout Never seem to have nothing but romance and dancing on their minds. Thankfully, Drew hasn't forsaken his bedroom pop roots, and there are enough intimate, ukulele-heavy, folk-inflected songs on Black Cat, like "Red Balloon" and "Peace Song," to please longtime fans.

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