These guys aren’t human…
Following the release of the three-track series “Caterpillar,” “Chrysalis,” and “Night Moth”, Instinct catches the Squab squad in full stride.
By transforming jams from their live shows into full-length tracks, the ingenuity on this project leaves little to be desired. The SunSquabi trio is made up of Kevin Donohue (Guitar/Production), Josh Fairman (Bass/Synth Bass), and Chris Anderson (Drums); the album also features Nick Gerlach on saxophone (“Pangolin”), Spencer Anderson on Violin (“Chrysalis”), Chris Karns (Pretty Lights) on Turntables, Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident) on percussion.
We sat down with the project and gave you our one-listen review. Feel free to give the album a spin while you read our thoughts!
Setting a vibe right from the go with a juicy synth melody, “Pangolin” starts Instinct off on the right foot..or claw? The phat side chain compressions holding down the melody are the perfect base for Karns to scratch over.
Gerlach coming in with the sax only adds more flavor to this beast. Karns’ “Don’t Stop” sample is my exact mood during this solo from Donohue. All-in before a break at the end leads this track to its final build. Gerlach and Karns going back and forth towards the end truly puts the cherry on top of this heater. Donohue crushes another solo at the end.
What more can be said about “Caterpillar”? The trio dropped a hot version of this banger at Red Rocks in early 2018. The juicy riffs from Donohue accompanied by synthy arpeggiators fill this one out nicely. Butters in the back slamming his kicks and snares keeps this one bouncy. This track has like 4 drops and I love them all. This is just one of those tracks that you could keep on repeat and never get tired of. The grand piano break is dramatic – the final drop mashing the arpeggiators with the piano is amazing. Full energy to finish it out and damn, I need to roll another one after listening to that.
Another single that was released leading up to this album, “Chrysalis” truly goes through a sonic transformation through the duration of the track.
Named after the metamorphic state in which caterpillars transform into butterflies, this jammy track stays pretty low key for the most part. With plenty of open space throughout the middle, the track gives the album some breathing room and cools down the high energy that came with the “Caterpillar” life.
The last of the singles released in anticipation of the album, “Night Moth”, is more under control than ‘Caterpillar’, but also higher energy than ‘Chrysalis’. One could describe it as “pretty”; Donohue shredding over the chorus section contains all the feels on this one. The build up and melodic arpeggiators are keeping the rhythm alive and make it a pleasant one to listen to.
Slowing things down with the appropriately named ‘Land Sloth’, the Squab train keeps chugging. Donohue scaling with tasty riffs gives this one some character from the start. More arpeggiators give this one a mysterious and slightly dark feel.
Power chords from Donohue are keeping this on track. Fairman brings a fair amount of flavor to this one when the piano section takes control. This one was a fun cool down after the metamorphic trilogy leading up to it.
Slightly picking up the BPM on ‘Dexter’s Day Out’, the Squab squad hits us with a long, choppy intro. I feel like they’re hitting every beat on the head. Other than Donohue’s dragged out power chords, this song is very choppy – Butters (Chris Anderson) shines bright on this one and gives the track some head-nod swing with the downbeat drumming. What is Dexter doing on this day out? The tracks low energy gives the project balance. Most of these tracks have been slappers, so it’s nice to get a break from the heaviness.
Next up is “Reptile”, and I can tell from the first 10 seconds that I’m going to like this one. Wavy snyths with a faaat chord progression give the song a hearty body. Bodacious horn section – sounds like trumpets and trombones?
The synthy progression from the intro makes a comback. I love Butters’ drumming on this one too. Halfway through, the track disappears…brumation? Spring must be coming because this build up is going somewhere. Wompy drop about four and a half minutes in. Gerlach on the sax absolutely crushing a solo over beast mode Butters drumming. This one is almost dubby, and the synth in the background keeps the foundation of the track exactly where it needs to be. Soft melodic outro is the cherry on top of this one. My favorite from the tape so far.
Groovy is how I would describe the intro to ‘Fisher Cat’. Definitely picking up the BPM on this one compared to the previous track. This chord progression makes me feel guilty for not calling my parents enough. Donohue drops an interesting guitar riff build-up before the drop. The highs and lows getting cut off and reapplied is a common theme of this one. Weird drop off about halfway through, similar to “Reptile”. Do fisher cats hibernate too? Comes back in quickly with more Donohue riffs. The more I notice Butters’ drumming, the more I appreciate it. Fariman’s keeping the melody alive with some side chain compressions; back into the chorus to finish up.
The next rack, “Snapping Turtles, once again picks up the speed from the previous track. Snapping turtles don’t travel at 120 BPM? I like the way they’re teasing these spacey synths. I feel like the entire intro to this one is a big build for some kind of ridiculous drop. I was right; flamboyant power chords from Donohue over a wavy and wobbly bass line makes this one pretty delicious.
The track cools off, but anyone who has listened to the previous eight songs knows something even bigger is coming. Cool wavy synths, I can’t get enough of them. Big build to another fire drop. The power chord with the wavy synth underneath it is such a cool sound. This is another one that hits you right in the feels. This track feels very well put together and stays interesting for the entire 6:45; I put it right up there next to ‘Reptile.’
Cooling off at the end of the album, ‘Polar Bear’ gives the project the mellow conclusion it needed. The catchy high-pitch chord progression is refreshing in its simplicity. While heavy drops were plentiful throughout the project, this isn’t the track you’ll find them on – and that’s fine! ‘Polar Bear’ doesn’t need them. It’s a very cool, melodic track to bring you down to Earth after a high-energy project. I love the piano bridge towards the end. Great mellow way to finish off.