Winter is coming. And as great British tradition dictates we will spend the next few months communicating exclusively through weather based conversation. Inclement conditions will demand we spend more time in close proximity to each other; sheltering from untimely downpours and biting cold. Awkward silences will be filled with chat bemoaning dark nights and blustery days. We bloody love waxing lyrical about the meteorological, all to avoid the butt clenching prospect of say anything remotely personal to each other. We’re a funny bunch.
Thankfully, The Drink have just released their second record, and it will help our plight. It’s the perfect record of protection from the depressing prospect of the long, oh so long, winter. The Drink’s Bandcamp bio describes their music as one of ‘Odd Dark Folk Pop’. Listening to Capital it might be more accurately described as Offbeat Dreamy Folk Pop. It’s not strange enough to be odd, but it contains enough quirkiness to render it offbeat. It’s not foreboding enough to be dark, but it does have a wonderfully hazy quality to it. Its tone is predominately upbeat, and consequently it’s a soundtrack to leisure time with friends, cider and sunshine. It may be called Capital but this is most definitely a pastoral record.
Dearbhla Minogue is the bands singer and primary songwriter. She moved from her native Ireland some short years ago, and the folk traditions of that country are evident on this record. The toe tapping rhythm section of The Coming Rain reflects this folk influence and it reassuringly dismisses our fears. Minogue insists “This coming rain it will never fall/Mother nature is a cruel master,” and she chastises our unnecessary worries: “Don’t you know the lights are on?.” Oh yeah, silly us.
One of the album’s many strengths is its ability to facilitate involuntary hip swinging and head nodding. The credit for this lies with drummer Daniel Fordham and bassist David Stewart. Their rhythm section is the backbone of the record and it’s undeniably tight, but also loose and free to wander into extended jams when the track warrants it. The Drink’s sound is also inextricably linked to Minogue’s vocal. It has a distinctive high pitch and is at once both misty and clear. There is just enough variance in her delivery to avoid dwarfing the rest of the record. Its off kilter character shines most brightly on the excellent Potter’s Grave. Minogue delivers lines like “If you do well in school I’ll take you out to the swimming pool” with a gentle abandon that is quite charming. Tracks like these recall Belle and Sebastian’s more whimsical moments, as do the wry lyrics of Month Of May. On this song Minogue dryly advises a love lorn friend: “He’s never gonna love you anyway/It doesn’t matter what you say.” Lyrically the album is a great deal of fun; mixing sardonic lyrics like these with the nonsensical ramblings of Roller. Incidentally, Roller is one of the album’s best and most infectious tunes.
There’s no doubt The Drink have built on their strengths and sharpened their focus since their 2014 debut Company. There’s a level of invariability on the record that just avoids over familiarity by a whisper. This is intelligent idiosyncratic guitar indie music with a strong stake in accessible pop tunes, and on the whole the album succeeds on all those levels. It’s no groundbreaker, but we don’t always want to be intellectually stretched and emotionally ruffled by a record. Interesting, enjoyable pop music is sometimes all you need to get by. It’s one for dreamy time wasting: keep it close through these long dark winter months, and surely it will serve you well.