With Howl, the Go help Detroit to bury that whole “garage rock” association (which, let’s face it, became a bit of an unfortunate stigma) once and for all.
The overall sound here is somewhat reminiscent of L.A.’s neo-psychedelic Paisley Underground scene, if the Paisley Underground had produced better songs. And the Go has two terrific songwriters in Bobby Harlow and John Krautner. The two wear their influences on their sleeves, be it the Kinks (Harlow sounds positively Ray Davies-ish on both “Yer Stoned Italian Cowboy” and the wonderful “She’s Prettiest When She Cries”), the Small Faces, Jefferson Airplane (a comparison that might even surprise them), the Beach Boys, the Beatles ... hell, it again may not be intentional, but the glorious “Mary Ann” appears to cop a brief reference from the Four Seasons in its charming opening moments (which would make sense in the grand scheme of things). And yet, it’s all distinctive enough to totally sound like no one but the Go, making the group part of a now-fading but still occasionally surprising chain.
The riff-driven “Mercurial Girl” is hard-driving, hard-rocking psychedelic pop. It takes a lot of chutzpah to name songs “Caroline” and “Mary Ann” (which Harlow and Krautner, respectively and individually, have done here), two of the archetypal girl names in great rock songs. And yet they’ve come up with new compositions that actually compete or at least can still stand tall in great company. The Go aren’t reinventing the wheel here so much as demonstrating that the wheel still has plenty of tread left. And Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride, despite its somewhat pretentious title, is as good as any rock album I’m sure I’m going to hear this year.