Record review: Drowners – Drowners (2014, LP)

drowners

Named after Suede’s 1992 debut single, Drowners is a New York quartet fronted by a 25 year-old male model with all the pop pretentiousness of Morrissey circa 1985 and the unashamed retro-leanings of The Strokes on their 2001 debut; but don’t let that put you off. Being so obviously indebted to certain bands (including Camden likely lads The Libertines, and thus – to a lesser extent – The Clash) could either be a blessing or a curse (it worked for Casablancas & Co. after all), but Drowners have just enough chops to pull it off on this self-titled debut. Frontman Matthew Hitt moved stateside from his home in Wales while on the hunt for modelling work, but ended up forming a garage-rock quartet, releasing a little-known EP and supporting the likes of Foals and The Vaccines on their North American tours – as you do. Despite being three-quarters American, the band’s sound sits much more comfortably in that sweet spot directly between ramshackle and tight that so many groups of underfed and over-posh groups of London lads have done in the past couple of years. Spurts of Smiths-esque self-loathing, longing and alienation come from the likes of ‘Watch You Change’ and ‘A Button On Your Blouse’, while opener ‘Ways To Phrase A Rejection’ and single ‘Luv, Hold Me Down’ get amongst the angular guitar lines with alternating Johnny Marr-like control and Pete Doherty urgency. While sounding like a microcosm of garage-rock isn’t going to be enough for Drowners to build a career on, this is a pretty good starting point. (Frenchkiss)

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