The term “shoegaze” has been knocked around quite a bit while trying to classify this new Houston four-piece, but that may not be wholly descriptive enough. This isn’t really the zillion-layered, blissful noise currents that came out of bands such as My Bloody Valentine or Ride, acts that will likely first jump to mind whenever the term is trotted out. Drowner is a brighter, more pop-minded noise-jangle unit more in the vein of a later, Honey’s Dead-era Jesus and Mary Chain. This is a very good album; just rethink your expectations.
Album opener Point Dume is probably as close as it gets to the denser, Loveless-esque aural overload, building from quiet, reverb-drenched guitar arpeggios and vocals and then stacking layer over layer of drums, keys, and distortion. Singer Anna Bouchard’s voice doubles and even triples on itself throughout the record so much that you’d almost think there were two vocalists sharing many of her parts. Never Go Away opens their sound a whole lot wider, taking a slower, more gradual burn towards a spacey, clamorous finale over the span of nearly eight minutes. Chime is a darker, rhythmic, even slightly intimidating track, which nevertheless might be the album’s catchiest song. They also show some hints of a proggier, Pink Floyd-ish side on Wildflowers, an airy, six-minute swath of gentle noise and streams of synthesizer that gives off a warm, summery vibe.
While so many bands have been kicking up the fuzz, stomping on their looping pedals, and jumping aboard the shoegaze/dream pop revival, Drowner has shown enough flash in its debut to stand out from the pack. Two trip hop-influenced remixes of earlier tracks pad out the album’s tail end. They feel out of place, but you surely can’t penalize a band for offering up bonus material.
Essential Tracks: Chime and Wildflowers