Alright, I admit what attracted me to the Drowners was the former Welsh model now turned musician, Matt Hitt. His rugged yet innocent attraction had pulled me in and intrigued a new found interest. Being enticed by the dapper frontman of a rock band was inevitable but with Matt Hitt’s good looks, there was almost an instantaneous appeal. No need for a marketing manager when you’ve got his cheekbones. I apologize for the constant mention of this particular character but it is where I first discovered his new project, the almost punk-rock Drowners.
The first listen to ‘Luv, Hold Me Down,’ was relatively promising. It may not be the ground-breaking sounds to represent a new generation of music, or even an uncommon sound of music but it was enjoyable. It did feel as if I had put on a combination an amateur version of the The Kooks and The Libertines. The track felt breezy, youthful and basically fun. ‘A Button On Your Blouse’ bore a striking resemblance to the former track but hey, it’s a Drowners song. Why wouldn’t it sound similar? However, the latter track held a slightly gentler pace than its former but consisted of the same zest nonetheless.
These two tracks gave me high hopes that their debut album could be rather delightful and that they were possibly hiding tracks that could surpass the first two I’ve heard. Or it could also just be the appeal of Matt Hitt misleading me. The LP opened averagely. ‘Ways To Phase a Rejection’ was a like a small tribute to The Strokes that needed a lot of getting used to. It introduced itself with guitar plucks jumping from ear to ear (reminded me a lot of ‘Automatic Stop’) maybe to just give the track a little more depth, even adding on short dialogue in the background at some point. It was acceptable throughout but I was completely lost when a squeaky guitar solo of some sort kind of made me cringe a little.
The next track was as discouraging as the first. Verses were surprisingly short and the chorus was not as snappy as I hoped it would be –“all the girls have long hair/ and all the boys have long hair/ and your were missing out.” Even the reoccurring ‘aahs’ didn’t feel necessary. So far, the band was trying to satisfy with a false sense of profoundness. When ‘Luv, Hold Me Down’ followed after, I kept my fingers crossed that my potential obsession with them could be assured with the next set of tracks just as this track did. Some of it did come through. The likeable quality of the band was able to show through and the instrumentation had taken itself up a notch. ‘Watch You Change’ had a funkier attitude, a twinkly suddenly rough chorus. ‘Unzip Your Harrington,’ one of the stronger tracks, has an easeful melody and a somewhat memorable chorus. Hitt’s supple crooning in the track definitely helps though.
There are still a number of blunders in the LP however, such as ‘Bar Chat’ which is hurried, rowdy and not in a good way. Sure he could be channelling Julian Casablancas again but the track lacks a certain quality that The Strokes possessed. Even the closing track, ‘You Keep Showing Up’ is lifeless. Hitt’s vocals aren’t exactly full of emotion and expression nor does it sound particularly extraordinary. Singing in an acoustic track without any distinct specialty or even personality n is a cause for a drudging feel.
Even though the better tracks are sprightly and roughly entertaining, the Drowners debut may still acquire this moderate aspect to it, could be the lack of lyrical substance. You’ll appreciate the songs the band has to offer and they’re not too bad to admire either, but they don’t exactly inspire a substantial fondness.