Introducing a collaboration between two of the leading lights of the Garage-Psych revival that might divide opinion, Getintothis Paul Higham has the lowdown on Drinks.
Drinks is the brainchild of the recently California-relocated Welsh singer Cate Le Bon and San Francisco native Tim Presley, one of the driving forces behind the more traditional psych revival on America’s West Coast.
An arch collaborator, Presley has worked with the likes of Ty Segall as well as a spot of moonlighting on guitar for The Fall. It is, of course, for the oddball warped wonder that is White Fence that he is chiefly known, whose quirky Syd Barrett-inspired off-kilter pop is given an altogether darker twist when performed live.
Indeed it was onstage as White Fence that we first encountered this collaboration, as Cate Le Bon has provided additional guitar on recent tours. With the prospect of a Le Bon/Presley union appearing a tantalising proposition it is fair to say that the addition of Le Bon was somewhat underwhelming and seemed to serve only to muddy White Fence‘s urgently frenetic live sound.
As Drinks however, they seem a different prospect altogether. Le Bon has suggested in recent interviews that this endeavour is less a collaboration and more of a four-legged solo venture representing the singularity of their artistic vision. This comes across in the music they make together as Drinks. There is a vibrancy to the sound they make and the sense of fun they clearly had making it is both audible and intoxicating.
Yet in many ways this can also be part of the problem and why their music might have something of a marmite effect. Large parts of the album seem to be high on improvisation, as angular guitars and dissonant abstraction sit high in the ascendancy. However this is, in many ways, what makes their recently released album, Hermits on Holiday so engaging and charming.
While the duo largely eschew 60s melodicism in favour of something a bit more, well, avant-something, they do reveal other influences. On some tracks it is easy to hear why Presley fitted in seamlessly as part of The Fall (and why, unlike most former members, he and Mark E Smith have remained on good terms), while Le Bon’s eerily and laconically detached vocals can’t but help make you think of Nico.
Elsewhere, there is a huge debt to the likes of Can and Faust particularly on Tim, Do I Like That Dog, a six-minute wig-out that some might deride as painfully self-indulgent but, to these ears sounds joyously infectious.
All we can say is take a listen to the album and see if it works for you.