When White Fence's Tim Presley hired Cate Le Bon to play guitar for the live incarnation of his band, he set DRINKS in motion. While touring, the two discovered the overlap in the weird psych sound of White Fence and the off-kilter folk-psych Le Bon dispenses, and they decided to record together. They started jamming with one rule in place -- neither could bring any finished songs to the sessions. Once they had some songs and ideas worked out, they called in White Fence drummer Nick Murray and started working on an album. Unlike a lot of collaborations between artists with definite styles where one can figure out exactly who did what, Hermits on Holiday comes off as a total combination of Presley and Le Bon's styles that results in something totally new and unique. There's a tiny bit of White Fence's wobbly craft in the finished product and maybe a bit more of Le Bon's measured and precise sound, especially in the songs she sings, like the title track. What it mostly feels like is a hybrid of late-'60s art-damaged psychedelia filtered through the angular and choppy filter of post-punk, with snippy guitar lines twisting around each other, jumpy basslines hovering in the background, and Murray's inventive and surprisingly musical drums pushing it forward. Add in a little bit of German art rock, some pleasantly aimless goofing around (especially on the goofily experimental "Tim, Do I Like That Dog"), and the occasional song that almost has a little pop in its DNA ("Laying Down Rock"), and the result is a pretty weird album that should challenge fans of both artists but ultimately win them over, thanks to the fun they sound like they're having plus their innate talents as guitarists, vocalists, and writers. Neither Presley nor Le Bon should give up their main gigs for DRINKS, but if they got together now and then to record an album with as much good-natured charm and tricky bits as this, that'd be just fine.
Hermits on Holiday
(Digital Download - PIAS #PIASDIGITAL 569)
Review by Tim Sendra