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The first single, Luv, Hold Me Down, is a propulsive slice of perfect garage pop. The other side of coin, comes courtesy of the melodic and melancholy track A Button on Your Blouse which changes up the pace of Drowners self-professed brand of romantic aggression. But its the cheeky grime of Long Hair that really showcases their easy, dirty thrill. Throughout the album are Hitts elegantly understated lyrics, the kind that adhere to, Salinger-esque economy of words. The result is an album thats equal parts playfulness and disquietude, toeing the line between music that sweeps the listener up, and lyrics that beg for their deep sensitivity and understanding.
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Main songwriter and Welsh fashion model Matthew Hitt is au-fait enough to know that the Britpop genre itself was nothing more than a summation of British Invasion classicist leanings mixed with punk influences and rooted in C86 amateurism, so a Strokes-y twist on jangle pop is the order of the day (“Luv, Hold Me Down”, “You’ve Got It Wrong”, “Shell Across the Tongue”, etc.). However, the production here is decidedly more polished and glossy – dare I say it, Americanised – with riffs seemingly syringed from the arm of Johnny Marr. These boys from NYC do know how to bash out Smiths-inspired melodies with a good ear for melancholy, but sadly there’s something ultimately dishonest about it. In the same way You Me at Six irk me due to how they sing in an American drawl despite being from Surrey, Drowners hide their New York origins by making overt nods to British mod culture (“Unzip Your Harrington”). Also, by dropping in lyrics about council flats and alluding to Morrissey-esque kitchen sink grandeur (“Ways to Phrase a Rejection”) in what is apparently an American band, this makes the whole LP feel a bit inauthentic.
Such wanton Britpop revivalism may be forgiveable due to how catchy the songs are, but since I often bemoan Americanisation in British music, it seems only fair that I question why three-quarters of Drowners feel compelled to eschew their American roots so willingly.
Musically, Drowners is perfectly listenable, but when a male model appears to try and front a band as part of a shallow fashion statement, it does tend to make the music pong of guile and mediocrity. Ignore these Salieris, please. Seek out the Mozarts instead.
'Drowners' is a brilliant album, definitely one for fans of The Strokes early material. The album combines jazzy guitar lines and catchy melodies that will be stuck in your head for days. Standout tracks are the aforementioned 'Luv, Hold Me Down', 'Pure Pleasure' and 'Shell Across the Tongue'. That said the whole album is brilliant with no weak tracks at all and is highly recommended.
"Drowners" (12 tracks; 29 min.) crashes in with "Ways to Phrase a Rejection", and the similarities with the Strokes' debut album "Is This It" immediately strike you. Like that album, the songs here are super-catchy, super-fast and mostly super-short (many of them barely 2 min.). "Long Hair" is one of the three songs that was on "Between Us Girls" (the other two being "You've Got It All Wrong" and the album closer "A Shell Across the Tongue"). Singer-songwriter Matthew Hitt sounds uncannily like Julian Casablancas. "Unzip Your Harrington", midway into the album, is the only track where the tempo isn't at breakneck speed, as if to give both band and listener a breather. At just under 29 min., the album flies by in no time and you'll play this again and again. This is a very enjoyable album, even though it brings new meaning to the term "derivative', but then again isn't everything in rock 'n roll a derivative in one way or another?
Drowners are coming to Ohio next month in support of this album, and I've got my tickets already. Can't wait to see how they will bring these songs in a live setting! I'm guessing it's going to be a sweaty affair and heads will be bopping. Meanwhile "Drowners' is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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