A band which sounds more sure of itself than it ever has.
Label: Frenchkiss Records
Released: June 24th 2016
Drowners’ 2014 self-titled debut LP was formulaic – there’s no getting away from that – and whilst that’s no bad thing in itself, it was hard not to wonder if they could do much more with their sound. Any lingering doubts that they were one trick ponies, however, are laid to rest the moment ‘On Desire’ sparks into life with ‘Troublemaker’. Just about as invigorating an opener as you could wish for, it’s an appropriately emphatic statement of the New Yorkers’ widescreen ambitions for album two.
Much of the charm of ‘Drowners’ lay in the storytelling of its lyrics. ‘On Desire’ comes with a similar charm, and the increased run-time of these songs makes for greater exploration of the themes contained within them – whether that be seeing ‘them’ with someone else (‘Human Remains’), reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that it’s all over (‘Another Go’), or encouraging the lazy to get their act together (‘Pick Up The Pace’).
There’s more of a depth to proceedings, something that’s exemplified with affecting tenderness on ‘Dreams Don’t Count’. “Inside a blue room, you could tell the sun was coming up / I watched you change the way you look, like a sweet chameleon / You were becoming brighter,” Matt Hitt croons delicately as he embraces his inner Alex Turner – not for the only time – on a number that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at the back end of ‘Suck It and See’.
Where the guitars rung out in an upbeat jangle throughout ‘Drowners’, here they exhibit a somewhat more sombre tone and come interwoven with rich and emotive synths, with scintillating standout ‘Someone Else Is Getting In’ epitomising this winning combination in potent fashion. Drowners may not entirely leave their comfort zone on ‘On Desire’, but they do expand it, and the result is a band which sounds more sure of itself than it ever has. Tom Hancock