Some music, the derivative stuff, is nothing more than a signal to the listener that they have the same favourite band as you. But enough about Interpol and their alter-egos Editors. Listen to them and you might as well just go back and listen to those old Joy Divison records? Cut out the middle men eh? Other music, the best music, is like a book of short sonic stories, It tells us a lot about the artist behind them and their path through musical life. And this music is at its best when those sonic stories have been ripped into pieces, reassembled in new ways, glued back together and then expanded on, edited and added to.
And that is what is going on with Drone Etiquette. If you were a sonic archaeologist or an acoustic forensic expert, you would be able to piece those stories back together. The rest of us just get to bask in these fresh yet familiar sounds, new songs shot through with glimpses of old musical friends from our past comfort zones. And that is how it should be. That is how music moves on…it’s all about evolution rather than revolution.
Drone Etiquette is an album whose arrival got ever-more tempting with every advanced teaser, tester and taster and to say that it is worth the wait is the understatement of the year. It is chock full of robust pop, college rock otherness, alternative cool, underground, future classics, (trust me I have a crystal ball) 80’s British indie label goodness, power-pop shimmer and more melody than you can shake a stick at. All woven together into a gorgeous set of songs.
When Word Get’s Out is the perfect blend of raw-edged pop and swaggering yet deftly delivered rock. It plays with dynamic in that classic loud/quiet, on/off, staccato way that American bands seemed to do so much better than everyone else and Sweeps is both poised and punchy, reminding me of that hugely underrated band Diesel Park West, an obscure reference perhaps but about as good as it gets in my book.
The Company She Keeps is a spiralling, clean-limbed, spacious and stunning slice of charm and chime and Keep Smiling is a song that early REM might have written, although, with a lyrical clarity, not to mention diction, they could only have prayed for.
It may only be a 6-track album (we can argue about just where an EP ends and a mini-album starts in the bar later) but Drew Forsberg, the creative hub of the ever-fluid Leaps line-up, has covered more musical ground, written more single-worthy songs (6 to be precise) than most indie bands and alternative crews usually manage in three full-length albums. Those more obvious bands might be sporting the right brand of t-shirt, the celebrity endorsed sneakers, the complicated hair cuts and be up with the latest tastes in skinny jeans but Drew has the songs and that is all that ever matters in this game. That is all that has ever mattered.