Saint Marie Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2012
Drowner takes their shoegazer label literally as if they are a period band. There isn’t even a slightest attempt to dilute their music on their self-titled debut to make it sound anything even remotely different from what the bands from first wave of shoegazer music sounded like. In all sense, this quartet from Houston, Texas is made up of purists who are not only unwilling to let go of a specific sound, but also of a specific time period in music history.
Celebrating (and frozen in the amber of) the ‘90s spacey noise rock music evolution, Drowner is noisy, dense, and dreamy. Singer Anna Bouchard, with her chiffon smooth vocals sounds like Elizabeth Frazer or Beth Thompson (of Medicine), depending upon the tone of the music. On the mellower end of the spectrum are songs like “Point Dume” and “This,” with a more ethereal quality, resembling a mix of Pale Saints and Cocteau Twins. On the more thickset side are the clattery “Chime,” “Written,” and “Here,” with beefy walls of guitars and phantasmagoric noises. Although the band has a sound that will surely please any shoegazer aficionado, the real deal, however, are the superbly arranged songs themselves.
Alongwith the healthy bombardment of guitar drone, Drowner indulges in many a moment of silence, which make for some of the most rewarding parts of the album. The record’s longest numbers, the five and half minute long “Tiny Ship,” the six-and-half minute long “Wildflowers,” and the almost eight minute long “Never Go Away,” comprise of the psychedelic half of the album, which start with meditative serenity, and explode somewhere in the middle of the song like a cosmic bang of wild guitar textures.
As a new project, Drowner can definitely do with some refinement. Its blemishes, like the sometimes over-fluffy vocals, unintentional distortion of sound due to mixing flaws, and drumming that’s off at times, are nothing that cannot be fixed with better engineering in the studio. Despite this, this is one great record.