Review: “Clench to Stay Awake” by The Garden

By Emily Smart

Released in March, “Clench To Stay Awake” is the lead track of The Garden’s new album, ​Kiss My Superbowl Ring. ​The band—consisting of twin-duo Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, prioritizes classic punk sounds and sentiments throughout their wide range of musical influences. Epitaph Records produced the album, an alt-rock company founded by Brett Gurewitz of the 90s punk staple, Bad Religion. Gurewitz’s grungy, golden touch creates a modern indie feel and maintains a perfect authenticity that is the punk scene. “Clench To Stay Awake” is the star of the album, starting and ending with a sound similar to the 70’s punk band Television. The track shares the twangy guitar of early garage rock, as well as the singing style: vocal-fried spoken-word poetry. At the peak of the song, a more conventional punk sound emerges—heavy distortion, power chords and, most importantly, speed—this creates a violent shift from quiet, arbitrary drum beats, leaving a slight aftertaste of Depeche Mode in the listener’s mouth. The variation in this part of the song seamlessly relocates the lyrics into instruments, which is everything that a meaningful song should do. The Garden has, yet again, retained their punk core while still exploring and curating an on-point and off-center piece.

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