This is hands-down one of the best albums I have heard this year. Snooze have created a fun and intriguing work of art with that is full of wonder and excitement.
I don’t know what is in the water in Chicago, Illinois, but the math rock groups coming out of the windy city the past year are remarkable. Recently speaking of another Chicago-bred group Origami Button, I was in shock to find another similar group creating fun and interesting music and doing it so damn well. The overall mellow lyrical schemes and upbeat tone spread through Familiaris makes it such a feel-good listening experience. There is just the right amount of math-rock elements to keep it fresh and exciting without being so complex that it’s hard to get into it.
One thing I appreciate – and have praised many projects on – is the ability for an album to be fun. Listening to “Separation Anxiety” tells you exactly what you can expect from this record. It has an almost pop-punk vibe, full of dual vocals and offset harmonies. Nothing can compare, however, to the insane grooviness found midway through the track. The guitar tapping mixed with the staccato drum accents made me so giddy listening to it. It is so well put together and mature, while still maintaining a sense of youth and jubilee.
“Hold On” may be the most straightforward track on the album, yet it is quickly becoming my favorite. While there are fewer intricacies compared to its sibling songs, it is such an interesting experience. It starts off so mellow and relaxed. This is then completely thrown out for a flurry of drum hits and guitar notes, which is then followed by a bouncy harmony section. The happy-go-lucky lyrics complemented by the airy vocals and instrumentals just make this song stand out. There is so much in this one track than I might expect to be strewn in throughout multiple songs.
A great weakness of mine, even more than an album being fun, is a well orchestrated and finite ending to a record. Contrary to the polarizing history of this track’s name, “Rainbow Bridge” is a wonderful conclusion to this tour de force that is Familiaris. It is a much punchier song, full of energy and spunk. What makes it so special to me is the abrupt change just over three minutes in. What comes next is an atmospheric, spacey sound that carries the rest of the track. It is nothing special or new. The interesting part comes within the last few seconds, where a familiar snapping sound comes in. If you, like myself, have Familiaris on repeat, it leads right back into the opening track, “Amicus Pawsterum”. This choice is well thought out and something I have not heard all that often. This makes the record, while finite in its ending, still feel like a never-ending ride that I never want to get off, no matter how many red shells come my way.
Familiaris has more than earned its spot for my AOTY list. I have listened to this album front to back so many times, and it is still hard to put into words how amazing it is. There is so much energy and enjoyment to be found in every track. There is variety and complexity without straying from the core sound that Snooze has built. While there is so much to love about this record, I look forward to what might come next from this young group.