While The Orwells are perhaps best known for having made quite a splash at a young age, their new album Disgraceland doesn’t center on youth, innocence, or ignorant bliss, instead opting for the themes of drinks, drugs, gore, and girls. These oft-explored topics are given new life through the band’s impressively developed melodies, riffs, and story lines, proving that although the members of The Orwells are young, they’re already pros.
Disgraceland starts with sun-drenched strings on “Always N’ Forever” and “Bathroom Tile Blues.” With bright acoustics contrasted by mind-in-the-gutter themes, the album continues to move in and out of a darker, brooding disposition with each progressing track.
“Blood Bubbles” is possibly the most upbeat horror-show love story ever heard, and while there’s nothing subtle about it, the effortless rhythm and inviting vocals pull you in, and before you know it, you’re whisked into a dance-friendly calamity.
The new record isn’t puffed up, nor is it stripped down. It’s pure rock. Undiluted by excessive production, songs like “Dirty Sheets” are unshakably infectious with raw guitar, bass, and percussion. Mario Cuomo sings:
“From the East Coast to the West / We ain’t the worst, we ain’t the best. / Drink all night, I’m such a mess. / There’s something missing in my chest. / Show me the hills. Show me the view. / I swear I’m coming back for you. / I lost my mind. I lost my shoe. / I found myself when I found…”
A bi-coastal call for a savior to fill an aforementioned void repeats throughout Disgraceland, enforcing a strong theme of lust and longing.
Choral harmonies give texture and depth to the album, as best exemplified in “Norman.” Just passing the halfway point, Disgraceland slows down for four-and-a-half minutes before diving right back into a high-speed tempo with “North Ave.”
Moving forward, the pinnacle of the album, “The Righteous One,” is an all-encompassing, hypnotic highlight reel of everything we’ve loved so far. Cuomo’s voice coolly coaxes listeners into a mind-bending journey with his impressive range over the band’s extraordinary musicianship; hysteria never sounded so good as it does in this track.
“Eyes on the prize, eyes on the thighs. / I’m not that old but I’m getting pretty wise.” Disgraceland as a whole can be summed up by this single line in “Southern Comfort.”
Ending on a positive-sounding note, the album concludes with the song that made The Orwells Letterman-famous, “Who Needs You,” a less-than-patriotic frenzy of instrumental breakdowns with hints of feedback and irresistibly fun drums.
Disgraceland is consistent throughout, witty and woeful all at the same time. A group of musicians who could easily be brushed off based on their young age have surpassed a level of accomplishment many seasoned veterans still yearn to achieve.
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