here's a cool song by the growlers:

Can someone help me unpack the chorus? It happens at 1:08. It has this sort of back and forth feeling--tension/release/tension/release, yet the chords (according to some guitar website) are all different. What I mean is it is not simply, say I-V-V-I. How do they use harmony to create this cool feeling? It's so good.

  • What you find on "some guitar website" is often wrong - and since you don't even tell us which website, we have no way to find out if it is right or wrong in any case. (Note, the question is off topic here, so don't expect any good answers here either!) – user19146 Aug 2 '18 at 7:34

Chords (from what I can tell without an instrument in front of me) are Ab -> Bb -> Eb and then Eb -> Eb/G -> Ab.

In the key of Eb major, these chords are the IV, V and I of the key.

Usually in this kind of sequence, in modern pop/indie/rock songs at least, this sequence would actually be IV -> V -> vi for the first part instead of IV -> V -> I. The song has an unexpected release by throwing in the I chord early. This is probably what is causing your "back and forth feeling". There's nothing particularly complicated going on - just playing the relative major of the expected chord.

A much more common chord sequence, one which this is a variation on, would be something like this:

Ab -> Bb -> Cm and then Eb -> Eb/G -> Ab (IV -> V -> vi and then I -> I(1st inversion) -> IV).

Note that in the song you linked to, the vi is skipped and replaced by an early I.

  • thanks for the great answer. Just what I was looking for. I will follow up on a question I have regarding choruses like this in a new post – 286642 Aug 2 '18 at 23:00
  • revisiting your informative answer. Are you aware of any alternative versions of the progression you mentioned? Id like to add some interest to the progression which, while super strong, sounds a bit cliche – 286642 Jan 9 at 0:14

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