Drinker Build Songs From Almost Mirror-Like Parts on 'Fragments'
Whether it be the glassy synths or the gently finger-picked guitar notes that skim across the surface, Drinker build songs from shimmering, almost mirror-like parts. That results in a wonderfully accomplished and understated album.
3 May 2019
Drinker are the recording project of singer-songwriter Aaron Mendelsohn and producer-composer Ariel Loh. After the release of 2017's Happy Accident EP, the band return with their first full LP, Fragments, which takes the core components of their sound, gives them a polish and refashions them in fascinating new ways.
The sound of the band is a clearly defined one, characterized by a flair for using subtle, minimalist electronics and delicate organic instrumentation to frame Mendelsohn's soft vocals. By creating a singular mood, that displays their unique musical character, the pair have created a tender, bittersweet album that pulls the listener in from the outset.
Opener "Follow" starts in meditative fashion as it rides gentle waves of ambient synths that serenely crash against his soft, whispered vocals. On "Holiday" the pair tease out the melodies, allowing them to bed in as they weave in wandering synth lines and bubbling electronics.
"Wave" finds the duo scaffolding layers of percussion from which they hang twinkling guitar notes and graceful synths. As it is, the song is a thoughtful, reflective piece that sees them whittling their sound down to its emotional core but it's the late change of pace that raises the song as a shuffling, hip-hop beat takes it somewhere edgier. It's moments like this that show the pair looking for other avenues to guide their sound into.
"Something I Want" adds techno snares and splashy synths to the circling electronics. With Mendelsohn's tender vocals hovering just above the ground, it takes a muffled beat to keep the whole thing tethered. The electrofolk of "California" is reminiscent of Bibio in the way they fold floating backing vocals over the picked guitars and electronics. Cleverly, they contrast the warmer melodies with more ominous sounding, droning synths and crackling percussion that adds a little tension to the mix.
The centerpiece of the album is the two title tracks, "Fragment I" and "Fragment II". The former is a skeletal piano ballad with his multi-tracked vocals giving it an almost spiritual edge. The fragility of the piece is soon broken by a drum machine loop as the song seamlessly segues into "Fragment II" - a song that works as the more animated counterpoint. With a steady beat acting as the heartbeat, the song finds its own pace with every detail realized to spellbinding effect, as Mendelsohn warns against clinging so hard to something that you eventually lose it: "You've been holding on too tight / It's gonna drift away from you."
The fireside, finger-picked guitar of "Model" and the mournful "Procession" allow the album an elegant and graceful finale. As the last note rings out, Mendelsohn seems to close the book on something, happy to have bound the memories together, captured in time before moving on to make new ones.
Whether it be the glassy synths or the gently finger-picked guitar notes that skim across the surface, Mendelsohn and Loh build songs from shimmering, almost mirror-like parts. That results in a wonderfully accomplished and understated album which sees the band furthering their own, distinctive sound.