Drowners are an American/Welsh indie rock outfit based in New York city who formed in 2011. Their EP Between The Girls was released in 2013 off Birthday Records, a company founded by former Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson. Their debut and self titled album Drowners was released in January 2014 off Frenchkiss Records. The band take their name from the debut single of Britpop legends Suede which immediately clues us in to what we’re dealing with.
Every ten years or so, we experience a “new wave” of bands that are somewhat an expansion or interpretation of those who have gone before. Britpop bands like Suede or like Blur or even Oasis owe in part bands like The Smiths, Paul Weller or New Order. Stateside, they had grunge and in the early 2000s, a trend was started with the release of The Stokes iconic debut in 2001. On the other side of the Atlantic, the UK gave us The Libertines and from then on in, a distinct trend of indie bands emerged. What we dealt with from the mid-2000s was an amalgamation of British indie and Americana. Arguably, the most influential indie band of the decade was The Arctic Monkeys, whose naïve “down to earth” or “one of the lads” style struck a chord with the masses. The band has since explored different sounds and styles and have somewhat left their “Riot Van” roots back in 2006. I would say, Drowners are a product of this particularly legacy which still leaves a mark nearly decade after these bands emerged.
In all honesty, Johnny Marr has a lot to answer to as does Pete Doherty and Julian Casablancas. These influences scream at me from this album, and it’s a matter of how much of this do you want to still listen to? The main problem with this album is that it doesn’t really sound unique or fresh when you think about all those who have gone before, after and in between. In 2014, the so called “indie” style is beginning to tire out.
Drowners debut is short and punchy at 30 minutes long containing 12 tracks. The album opens with Shell Across the Tongue and it’s jangly Arctic Monkeys-esque riff. It’s a raucous indie track with lyrics about a boy and girl. There is nothing really “wrong” with it, it’s a tight and danceable track. Well, People Will Talk is a track with post punk overtones reminiscent of The Smiths or The Cure but with snarling Casablancas-esque vocals. The tracks leading single is entitled Luv, Hold Me Down with lyrics “In a simple skirt, you caused a ricochet”, my mind immediately drifted to the song Florescent Adolescent by the Arctic Monkeys. The track is laden with more retrospective indie-pop riffs and again, is a perfectly good indie song that girls can dance too and lyrics twenty-something year old lads can brood too.
Whether Drowners is an album that is actually contrived and masterminded to cater to an audience who own a lot of Cribs or Arctic Monkeys albums, I don’t know. The band could genuinely be a product of their influences and the lyrical content and melodies are just not very self aware and naïve. I’m not sure. To say, this is a bad album would be a lie. It’s perfectly enjoyable on it’s own as a twelve track indie record, but I would be lying if I told anyone this was unique and life changing and a crueller reviewer might even say a tad derivative. If you’re a fan any of their influences, you may enjoy this album but it’s no Is This It.
The album was released on the 28th January 2014 off Frenchkiss Records.