Guitarist Jack Ridley evidently worships at the altar of Johnny Marr, while songs such as ‘Unzip Your Harrington’ wear their second-hand Englishness with pride. ‘Ways To Phrase A Rejection’ proves the four-piece do a good enough job of recreating the kitchen-sink narratives of the era, but where they really excel is when they slip back into the 21st century: see ‘Bar Chat’, which fizzes along with pure garage-rock fury, frontman Matt Hitt adopting a Casablancas snarl and uncovering Drowners’ real potential as he goes.
If the axiom that talent borrows but genius steals is true, then Drowners will be getting their Mensa membership cards in the post any day now. Ways to Phrase a Rejection, the opening track on the New York-based group's debut album, couldn't be any more Strokesy if it turned up late for interviews and started making half-arsed solo spinoff records: the megaphone-treatment slurred vocals, the spindly guitar lines, the surges and lulls are all present and correct. It's unoriginal, but it's wildly exciting. And it's also, by a distance, the best thing on this collection. As the album runs on, it's apparent Drowners' presiding influence is actually the Smiths, but in common with so many groups inspired by that most individual band, they lack what made the Smiths special: Morrissey's lyrical facility and acuity, and Johnny Marr's ability to make something unexpected out of the most commonplace ingredients. On Watch You Change, especially, you can pretty much play Smiths instrumental bingo, chalking off the elements you've heard before.
19.02.14 Köln, Gebäude 9
20.02.14 Berlin, Lido