For the first time in Rough Trade’s recent history, the independent record store stocked an unsigned band’s release. That band was London-based trio The Drink, whose handmade EP’s convinced Rough Trade to give them a chance. But, with their debut Company soon to be released, are they actually any good?
The Drink immediately grab you. Lead single and album opener “Microsleep” sounds like several different songs hurled into a mixing pot and churned out into gloriously weird indie folk pop; it has a quasi math-rock riff running throughout, but then also throws in the jangly guitars that are synonymous with the sound of indie pop, with Dearbhla Minogue’s candy-sweet vocals sprinkled on top.
Stomping like a fleeing horse, “Bantamweight” follows. While the oddity of “Microsleep” does momentarily subside here, what takes its place is a gloriously solid indie pop number with nostalgia “She had a hard time at school” dripping from its guitar strings. A highlight.
But then The Drink go and flummox you again. “Dead Ringers” has an opening riff that sounds fairly familiar to punk duo Slaves’ recent single “The Hunter”. That an indie-pop trio can produce riffs similar to that of one of the most exciting punk bands to surface in music this year, just makes The Drink seem even more strange. You might think that hurling sounds as menacing as that in might not work, but it does. The menacing bass, combined with Minogue’s cutesy delivery, gives the whole piece an off-kilter charm, and this darker edge is certainly refreshing.
Further highlights include the eerie riff-drenched “Fever” and the melancholic “Wicklow”. Then you’ve got the Little Comets-esque “Playground” and another standout “Beasts Are Sleeping”, all of which sound like they could neatly slip into the soundtrack on Zach Braff’s next indie (other indie films with great soundtracks are available).
And fit into an indie soundtrack The Drink could. The London trio are very good at what they do, that being creating multifaceted, likeable indie folk pop with splashes of peculiarity. This debut is, to put it bluntly, solid.
Some people say that the sign of any great piece of work or art is that you keep thinking about it after you’ve left it alone, and, unfortunately, The Drink just doesn’t do that to you. You enjoy it while it lasts, but when it’s over, you don’t feel compelled to rush off to tell your mates about it. The Drink have shown us that they can make blameless indie folk pop, but their greatest assets are their flashes of blackness and oddity. Maybe, on the second go around, if those facets were explored further, something very exciting could come out. Listening to Company, it’s those moments when The Drink sidesteps you, be it with a punk-y or math rock-y riff that makes you perk up and go ‘eh? Really?’ That’s what makes them intriguing, and what differentiates them that vital little bit from the countless other indie folk bands we’ve all listened to over the past few years. It’s that quality that saves the group from just being ‘another landfill indie band’.
“You can’t complain,” sings Minogue on album closer “Haunted Place”, and I find it difficult to disagree. As it stands, Company is nothing more than a reliable and enjoyable indie folk pop album, but is it worth your time? Definitely. I’m excited for what comes next.