Drowners

Lurking a few levels beneath the group's tightly wound post-punk tracks are bittersweet minor-key melodies that burn like the red light of a setting sun. The honeymoon period is over, in other words, with the rose-colored rush of living in a new city—Hitt is Welsh and lived in London before moving to the States five years ago—replaced by lingering pangs of paranoia, anxiety, and doubt. Or as the frontman puts it, "as a result of writing collaboratively, we ended up with this dark pop record. I think that's a truer reflection of who we are as a band."

One in the decades-old tradition of Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, and early Cure, mind you, music that's caustic and catchy. That goes for everything from the call-and-response chords of "Conversations With Myself" and pressure-cooked choruses of "Cruel Ways" to the mangled drum machines, muffled synths, and lean Kraut loop of "Trust the Tension." Songs as insistent as "Someone Else Is Getting In" and "Another Go" also sound like they're about to boil over, finding strength in the final stages of a flat-lining relationship—down, but certainly not out.


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