Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the team DRINKS consisting of Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley, have delivered their debut record entitled Hippo Lite. The album is 12 twelve track-long adventure with curious and wild experimentations that take place throughout its surprisingly short runtime.
The songs represented on this record pull inspiration from a number of musical genres such as folk, pop, or even funk and twist these genres in on themselves to present a song that is somewhat similar to something that might seem familiar, but nevertheless foreign. Production on this album is fairly minimal, creating the illusion that you are amongst the recording sessions in a live studio. Some track instrumentation may even evoke a Velvet Underground sound.
Album opener “Blue From the Dark” initially presents a warm acoustic guitar being pleasantly plucked, only to be followed by faint vocals and the occasional accompaniment of other instruments that contribute to form a soft lullaby. The rest of the album strays far from this sound, however. “IF IT” is a very enjoyable and eerie melody that is neither entirely positive in mood or completely sinister. Slightly disappointing is the fact that the number returns as a reprise that feels more or less like an extended variation of what came before. It’s actually repetition that is the biggest flaw with this album. “Real Outside” represents this problem perfectly as it does have a catchy chord progression with a funky bass line. However, it’s this same chord progression and bass line that is played over and over again with very little changes that cause this 4 minute song to overstay its welcome.
“Ducks” comes close to irritation if it weren’t for the wacky instrumentation in the background acting as a representation of a restless mind. Still, some of the more over-the-top vocal deliveries could have been left out to make for a more pleasant listen. Despite this flaw, tracks like “Corner Shop,” “Pink or Die,” and “Leave the Lights On” have unpredictable paths that may have a repeated phrase or melody that you’ll find yourself humming here or there.
Hippo Lite is a very strange record. Some songs present something sonically familiar, but will nevertheless be something completely new. Vocal melody and instrumentation is something that is near impossible to predict. The production is fairly bare to the point that you may feel that you’re at a live show or in the studio amongst scribbled papers or cigarette smoke. Several songs on here have absolute potential, but their ideas are clouded or lost amongst the curse of too much repetition.
By Caleb Ortiz