Snarls 2024
Photo: Sumner Howell / No Earbuds

Snarls Wear Their Hearts on Their Sleeves on ‘With Love’

There are few things more thrilling in music than hearing a band reach another level of mastery of their craft, and Snarls sound positively inspired on With Love.

With Love
Take This to Heart
3 May 2024

Columbus, Ohio’s Snarls have been releasing quality fuzzy, guitar-driven pop since 2018, and each subsequent release has been better than the last, culminating with 2021’s What About Flowers? EP, where the band sounded great, bringing in more 4AD influence on the melancholy highlights “For You” and “Sparkling”. That EP suggested that Snarls were hitting their stride, and now they are back to make good on the promise of What About Flowers, working with Chris Walla, who has a track record of assisting bands in leveling up, from Foxing to Ratboys to Tegan and Sara. But expert production can only take a record so far, and Snarls have delivered their best-written songs on With Love, too, which makes this a perfect distillation of their power.

In many ways, With Love recalls the massive leap that Tegan and Sara took on their 2007 triumph, The Con. Snarls have called their sound “glitter emo alt-rock”, and that suits them. Fans of groups like Momma and Bully and 1990s indie greats like the Breeders and Scrawl will find much to love here, but comparing Snarls to peers and influences is reductive. Their music is far more open-hearted than those of the bands and more accessible for finding the emotional center, and that is one of their strengths.

The opener and title track’s production is massive, and the “heys” in the middle of it are one example of how Walla adds just the right small measure to make something go from good to great. Lead singer Chlo White has never sounded better. With Love was recorded at Walla’s remote studio in Norway. In “Moon Tides”, her vocals ride atop a propulsive beat and hazy guitars for another highlight. “Heavy Drinker” is part of the lineage of great alt-rock singles and wears its 1990s influence proudly. “Big Fish” builds tension in the verses until it melts into a soaring solo.

The ballad “Driving Faster” provides a contemplative mid-album break. Elsewhere, the propulsive “Wishing Bones” is aided by synths. “Sugar Rush” has a sinister edge in the vocals in the verses but builds to a catchy chorus and hook. It is one of the clear highlights. “Ur Song/Lovers of Valdero” is the epic closer. Taking a page from a different legendary Ohio band’s epic, the Afghan Whigs’ “Faded”, it has a stormy, atmospheric sound stretching over seven minutes. 

However, the best song is “Baby Bangs”, a lacerating but highly relatable examination of White’s insecurities. The lines are plaintive but cutting throughout, and the loud-quiet-loud dynamic makes the song pack an emotional wallop. I really wasn’t prepared to feel as much as I did. The harmonies lift the song further. It is a raw exploration of what it feels like to navigate insecurities and baggage in the midst of a healthy relationship. There’s a universal appeal to this song; hopefully, it finds the largest audience imaginable because it will be so highly relatable for so many. “Wish I wasn’t so narcissistic / Wish I was easier to deal with / Wish I could love you without needing some type of therapeutic assistance.”

There are few things more thrilling in music than hearing a band reach another level of mastery of their craft, and Snarls sound positively inspired on With Love. If you’re already familiar with them, you’ll instantly recognize that this is their best collection of songs. If you are uninitiated, take some time to listen to this catchy and powerful record on repeat for a while. Either way, With Love has the perfect mix of tracks that will sound great with the car windows open on a sunny day and emotionally charged songs to soundtrack the type of cry that leaves you renewed.

RATING 8 / 10