Squaaks: Rock Control
The cover says it all. There’s a shot of an amp knob—turned down to four for some reason—PhotoShopped into a duotone purple/aquamarine Warhol rip and labeled rock control. It doesn’t explain the name Squaaks—or what the knob could possibly do—but, given the album, Squaaks may have just been the most fun-to-say combination of seven letters the trio could come up with.
Rock Control is nothing if not fun: 30 minutes of fun-before-fashion bop-along guitar rock that recalls Warhol contemps T. Rex, the Kinks (et al.), and maybe some Beatles for good measure. It’s an exciting take. You can tell when, exactly, Squaaks vocalist/guitarist Virat Shukla starts to really try: His voice turns to a thin nasal strain like flipping a light switch, losing his otherwise perfectly acceptable indie-rock preset—flowing from that sweet spot a pencil length down from the adenoid and picking up just a touch of snot along the way (think Art Alexakis).
Not that he’s saying a whole lot. “Two Hippies,” “Tropical Fish,” and “Hot Tub” don’t delve a whole lot deeper than their titles suggest. There’s a reason the album insert contains a photo of a snoozing tabby—the Squaaks perhaps?—and not lyrics. “Be Dry My Bleeding Heart” has the titular phrase—repeated into oblivion in a twangy just-off harmony—but otherwise, Rock Control’s, well, pretty dry on the words front, basically a collection of snappy, empty lines. On “Thunder and Lightning” it’s “You love the thunder/ I love the lightning/ Are you trying to tell me love is better than fighting?” Not sure if that one even makes sense. No matter: Put ’em together with Squaaks’ warehouse of guitar hooks—stylistically generic but nonetheless enjoyable—and just enough bounce and Rock Control’s a fine ride.