Pat Chow are back with their buzzing, guitar-laden sophomore album Overwhelming Care. Like the album name suggests, at times, the album is a manic experience; the change in ethos, delivery, speed and style definitely keeps the listener on their toes, as well as showcases the band’s ability to genre-morph. The album includes songs that were released as singles over a year ago (Green Eyes) and songs that were released in the last few months (Make It Hard). As such, the album stands to be a collection of the band’s best tracks since their remarkable 2015 debut album Are You Okay?.
This mixture of songs over time and genres, including indie, rock, garage and heavy rock, does give the album a sense of a collection of songs and singles, rather than a cohesive conceptual piece. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, but it does beg the question – is the age of the album over? And is it time for the age of the singles?
Seeing and Believing, Tidy and Martydom are examples of a defiantly more 90s grunge and rock feel, a weightier, exhaustive and acute turn for the band with the lyrics slightly drowned out, fuzzy feedback, expeditious guitar and rampant drums. Tidy in particular is reminiscent of late 1990s Foo Fighters. The result is more of an intense onslaught of fast-paced sound rather than the leisurely melodic, lyrical styles of many of the other songs on the album, and a lot of the band’s previous work.
Track three No Strings was actually released as a single in February this year, but rest assured it hasn’t lost any of the charm it punched you in the face with back then. The track is a good example of where the rest of the songs on the album are at – rounder, steadier, brighter, indie rock. No Strings is musically intriguing, the guitar tones are beautiful, the melody charming and the ultra-relatable lyrics just top it all off, which is actually a sentiment that can be applied to all of Pat Chow’s best work. Whilst other songs in the indie rock realm include Green Eyes, which is reminiscent of early 2000s indie (aka holy grail of indie) and Shanny D and Wade of Shite which both flex some slower, garage-y, jangly, toe-tapping, head-nodding and nu-folk sounds.
As well as first track and absolute banger Make It Hard, which sits somewhere between their fuller and more harmonious styles, standout tracks also include No Strings, Green Eyes, Are You Okay?, Shanny D and Wade of Shite. In all these songs there is a clear melody, Ben Protasiewicz’s vocals sit closer, the songs do less and let the wit, precision and raucous energy shine through in Pat Chow’s understated way.
There is something unapologetic and brilliant in Pat Chow’s approach to making music; it doesn’t try to do too much, isn’t a afraid of a cheesy singalong chorus, lush harmonies, catchy guitar hooks, dirty fuzz, and thumping, up-front drumming to tie it all together. It’s a simple recipe that needs to be measured perfectly, and the band does this with aplomb. It might not have the utterly undefinable, magical moments of 2015s Are You Okay?, but that was always going to be impossible to match. And as a second album to that cracker, it is pretty great.