So the story about The Drink is that Rough Trade stocked their homebrewed EP despite the band being unsigned. Immediately, my thought was that this the sort of overhyped nugget of information that music reviewers and publicists love to drop into descriptions of a debut album. But upon hearing their phenomenal Company, I’ve decided that it was hardly a gamble. This album is stupendous, and I had way more fun reviewing it than I initially expected.
It kicks off with “Microsleep.” A post-punk bass-line out of a Fugazi track anchors a choirgirl singsong with lyrics about petit mal seizures. Feedback laden guitar descends with a subtle jangle-pop flourish. There are obvious lo-fi influences, but every sound snaps into place the way it should. Every track is well produced without giving the impression of being overproduced.
The lyrics are charming, too. On “At the Weekend,” singer Dearbhla Minogue declares, “It came to me in a blood transfusion. Internally, it was a silent affair.” The guitar embraces the listener with wide arms like a Built to Spill track, but with a deftness of touch that keeps the grit at bay while maintaining plenty of oomph. There’s sweetness here, but it never becomes twee. It’s like a toothier, fuzzier Belle and Sebastian, or alternately if The Breeders really got into Irish folk.
That’s not to say that The Drink are one trick ponies. On “Playground,” there’s an African rhythm that I swear I heard on Paul Simon’s Graceland. Everything ultimately builds to a forceful swell of guitar that erupts into a crescendo undergirded by subtle organ sounds. Similarly, “Dead Ringers” has a bluesy math-rock opening before the cathedral vocals kick back in. Moments of the bassline sound like they mightn’t be out of place in a (gasp) Metallica song. The lyrics describe a severed head, creating a Stanislavski-esque contrast between the vocal inflection.
The Drink manages to be all over the place without sounding like they’re all over the place. There’s enough riff rock for a Dinosaur Jr. fan to be satisfied, but an atmospheric element that hides the album’s ambitious complexity. Snippets of Dismemberment Plan and Blonde Redhead collide pleasurably while a voice akin to that of the Glaswegian gals in Camera Obscura declaims “your heart’s a nursing home.” “Beats are Sleeping” has a riff that steals from The Who’s “Happy Jack” but transfers it from a sunny beach to a frigid heath.
This album is great bedroom pop, something for your headphones but not your next party. Somewhere amidst the syncopation and off kilter time signatures, there’s enough for indie rock fans of every stripe. It’s by turns abstract, unabashedly rockin’, gentle, muscular, tender, and brash. There’s experimentalism at play, yet it feels entirely familiar.
I’ve read a few other reviews that describe this album as “strange” or a “patchwork.” They’re wrong. Company is thoroughly coherent, brimming with absorbing resolve. Raise your glass, pop your earbuds in, and get thoroughly intoxicated with The Drink.
Company was released on December 1st via Melodic. Buy it here.