Album Reviews

Driver Drive Faster – Open House

(Akoustik Anarchy) UK release date: 20 June 2011


Driver Drive Faster - Open House

It’s a rare thing when you come across a chorus that lacks in simplicity but still manages to root itself in your head for days.This is the triumph of Driver Drive Faster and their song It’s All Over It’s Everywhere. Never underestimate the power of a good chorus. The one mentioned above marks the exact moment when you begin to immerse yourself in Open House’s charms.

Choruses were always going to be this band’s speciality. More familiar to some under their former guise, Polytechnic (the line-up remains the same with the exception of a new drummer), Driver Drive Faster don’t so much re-shape their previous mould as give it a couple of tiny additions; most notably maturity and a penchant for packing their songs with a dense array of textures. But choruses, like those on Polytechnic’s only album, Down Til Dawn, continue to reap havoc.

Between winter 2008 – the time when Polytechnic dissipated – and this summer, the group have evidently honed their craft, shying away from an “indie” tag that lumbered the previous outfit and heading more towards an experimental, progressive application of guitars, in line with Field Music and The Phantom Band more than anybody else. Open House’s songs are embellished with layer upon layer of organic instrumentation; fluttering pianos; fidgeting guitar structures; the whole piece often becomes a delectable treat. In the same degree as their contemporaries, the sheer attention to detail amounts to the band being viewed as this intelligent being. You sensed it with the former ensemble – these guys are smart, sharp and they know what they’re doing. These facts become glaringly evident as the album gathers pace.

Lacking a concept of a continuous charge, the album actively jumps like a frog over lily pads from one sonic adventure to the next; the group boasting robust horn-sections for A Mile Back and a Fionn Regan-like delicate and withered touch for One Last Look. Beforehand, highlights come in the shape of the sedated David Bowie-esque chants of Don’t Fall Apart and the barrelled cries that define Missing Out’s chorus. If anything the band try to explore too much within one album, seemingly losing focus from time to time as tracks struggle to connect with one another. More than anything, Open House comes across as a plea to be taken more seriously. Like The National‘s Alligator – an album determined on making a point – Driver Drive Faster seem focused on battering away the cobwebs of their somewhat unsuccessful past and exhibiting a myriad of clever tricks.

This is all well and good but in going for the kitchen sink, Open House tends to steer off course. Instead of working well as a flowing collection, it mimics an extrovert, eclectic art gallery where whilst all the work is admirable and respected, not everything accounts for your taste. Nevertheless, one perpetual element of the album is a strong chorus and these will inevitably lead the listener back several times over.


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