Fervent, infectious, and proud, Bowz Tiger's second album, 所在 Where I Am, is like an energy drink that actually tastes good.
Near-bursting with urgency, Bowz Tiger's sophomore effort differs somewhat from Highway Children, the band's wonderful debut. That album has a lighter feel, whereas 所在 Where I Am packs a more powerful punch. I attribute this, in part, to higher production quality. The vocals are more layered, the guitars more upfront, the bass fuller, and the overall sound much richer and bigger. And, yes, bigger is better, allowing the songs to match their spirited performances.
Still loaded with lalala's, the new songs expand the band's sound and style into exciting territory. 吼Intro, the straightforwardly titled opener, is no throwaway track, as a name like "Intro" may suggest. This blistering song is in fact a fully-realized statement, a harbinger of the other eleven bold songs. Veritable hit Second Time and the bouncy This Time evoke The Strokes' upbeat rock numbers, but what stands out is not how I might compare Bowz Tiger to others, but how they've grown into themselves.
所在 Where I Am 's songwriting offers new developments, from the Taiwanese vocals of the title track to some slightly different melodies, as on 鹿的淚 Deer’s Tear, a terrific song that never fails to grab people's attention when I DJ. It's a catchy tune with a driving, yet easy rhythm that propels the song forward to the odd yelps/screams/howls at its conclusion.
天才與白痴 Genius & Idiot and 小星星 Little Stars are other good examples of Bowz Tiger's more sophisticated craftsmanship, but it's on 行進曲 Marching Song, with its distinctly Doug Martsch/Built To Spill feel, that the changes are the most thrilling for me, featuring three distinct yet complementary moments. The album's added subsections and structural shifts tell me the band is totally confident in its abilities, daring to develop their ideas rather than play it safe. It's a mark of maturity, but not the self-castrating kind. 公路危險 The Danger of Road Trips dispels any notion of that; it's a balls-out rocker. But back to the point, nothing at all feels forced or contrived. That's the last thing I could ever imagine coming out of Bowz Tiger.
One element I have come to expect - and thoroughly enjoy - are Bonkit's guitars, on fire throughout every song. They're torrential, if not affecting, as is the case with the tender, tremelo-y 小鳥 Little Bird ... I would love to hear an expanded or even instrumental version of it, but I guess that's what live shows are for.
Nothing can really overtake the Bowz Tiger experience on stage, but 所在 Where I Am doesn't need to. In place of smoke and sweat, it allows us a little more nuance and just as much pleasure.
So with all that joy, why do I feel like crying when I listen to this album? Could it be because they've documented the yearnings of the human heart with such deadly accuracy? Maybe it's the exhilaration of being understood, and the humility that follows such moments. What is for certain is that this is a band on fire, and that we're lucky someone pushed "record".
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