Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Album Review: View From The Bottom by The Drowns

The Drowns are a three piece street punk band from Seattle and Los Angeles. They are somewhat of a supergroup as they feature members from bands such as Success, Shell Corporation, Time Again and, a personal favourite of mine, Madcap. They formed in 2017 and this past August they released their debut album View From The Bottom on Bypolar Records and 1984 Records in the US and Gunner Records in Europe.

The ten track album starts with Eternal Debate. Eternal Debate throws a curve ball immediately with a couple of notes on the piano getting the song started before The Drowns quickly switch things up with a huge sing-along opening that leads into an up-tempo street punk banger. Musically the song pounds along at a decent pace, giving the song plenty of energy and the band's lead vocalist delivers the lyrics in a brilliantly passionate way. The Drowns have a bit of a unique sound. Mixing the street punk sound of a band like the Street Dogs with the gruff punk stylings of Red City Radio. Take Me Back follows this and the first thing that struck me is the excellent dual vocals on the song. There is a deeper grumbling style alongside a cleaner, more traditional way of singing. The two voices work together so well, particularly when harmonising. The song's high point comes during the breakdown as we're left with the deeper vocals and a drum beat that leads us nicely into the song's finale. The third track is titled Time Slips. Time Slips has more of a melodic pop punk sound. It had me thinking of Alkaline Trio with the vocals in particular reminding me of Matt Skiba. This is a mid-tempo song about making the most of the time you have together because eventually that time will run out.

Where's Bobby? wastes little time in getting started by launching into its catchy chorus instantly. The song itself is actually quite a sad one as it tells the story of a friend who has relapsed and is back on heroin. Despite the topic of the song, it actually feels quite upbeat and almost like a pop punk song. Kind of like Off With Their Heads. This is one of the stand out songs on View From The Bottom for sure. Faithfully Faithless brings us to the halfway point of the album. The song is about being an atheist and not liking it when religious people try to force their beliefs onto you. Something I'm sure many of us relate to. The dual vocals are back on the track with the softer, cleaner voice taking control of the verse while the gruffer style supplies the chorus. Midway through the song there is a sublime guitar solo that leads into this incredible breakdown that may be my favourite part of the entire album. You should listen to it. The album's title track, View From The Bottom, is up next and the tempo picks up nicely. I really loved this song, it's relentless but jam packed with a delicious melody. The energy in the song is infectious, it's impossible not to get swept away with The Drowns here. It had me wanting to sing along immediately and I'm really hoping a lyric sheet makes an appearance somewhere online soon so that I can quickly learn the words and join in with the Drowns with a gigantic smile upon my bearded face. The seventh song is named Overexposure. This is a softer track that almost falls into folk punk territory. This is another song that is captivating and can't be ignored. The dual vocals on the chorus are a delight and the conversation style between both singers is a big highlight. I always enjoy a one-two punch of multiple vocalists trading off against one another.

Boston Accent is about the pressure of trying to live up to someone else's expectations of how you should live. This is a mid-tempo gruff punk track that goes along pleasantly and has you listening intently throughout. It's a very introspective song as the singer really looks deep into his soul. As seems to be a theme in The Drowns song, things really become big during the breakdown on the song – again this is the moment when things really take off and you know that this is yet another banger of a punk song. The penultimate song is titled I.C.U. This track sees The Drowns soften slightly with the gruff rumbling style of vocals that has dominated much of View From The Bottom vanish. This switch works an absolute treat and gives the album a fresh sound that you perhaps wouldn't expect this deep into the album. This song might just have the best harmonies on the entire album, which is really saying something considering how great the harmonies have been throughout. A song titled Darkness brings View From The Bottom to a close. I think it's always great when an album finishes with a positive message. View From The Bottom does that as Darkness looks at the topic of mental health and reassures the listener that they are not alone. I particularly enjoyed the passionate shout of "the light will come" that appears midway through the song. It's quite subtle but it's such a great touch.

This is some debut album from The Drowns. I'm expecting to see it on many top ten lists come the end of the year. I can't remember the last time I heard a debut record from a new band that impressed me so much. I know these guys have some pedigree from their other bands but, even so, View From The Bottom blew me away. I'm certain it will blow you away as well.

Stream and download View From The Bottom here: https://thedrowns.bandcamp.com/album/view-from-the-bottom

Like The Drowns here: https://www.facebook.com/thedrowns/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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