One of the more unlikely collaborations of recent times, Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley score another understated success with the second DRINKS album ‘Hippo Lite’.
DRINKS is the somewhat unlikely-sounding joint project of Welsh singer-songwriter Cat Le Bon and American guitarist Tim Presley, of White Fence and once, briefly, of British post-punk legends The Fall. The duo’s debut album from 2015, titled Hermits On Holiday, was considered one of the most successful records to combine styles and musical approaches of two totally different artists. Cate Le Bon, who is most commonly identified by her Welsh roots and beautiful, haunting voice suited to laconic folk, somehow found a common ground with Presley, a Los Angeles based, psych-rock musician. In 2018, the pair decided to work together again on a new project, posing the question if DRINKS are still in their shape from a few years ago.
Hippo Lite starts calmly, with ‘Blue From The Dark’ being driven by tranquil guitar plucking and piano chords which are pressed in a soft manner. Le Bon’s and Presley’s vocals top the entire track in a slightly airy way, as if they were easing the listener through those first few minutes of the album. While the following song ‘Real Outside’ is jumpier, it still lies on the more peaceful side of the album, with its rich, yet not overbearing arrangement.
As the album develops, DRINKS find more and more ideas on how to surprise the listener. ‘Ducks’ and ‘Leave The Lights On’ are definitely taking the top spots for the most erratic and avant-garde track on Hippo Lite. On those two songs, Le Bon and Presley let loose of all the potential inhibitions and follow their musical instincts. The final result is neither melodic nor ordinary, yet it represents the duo at their most experimental and psychedelic bent.
On Hippo Lite, both artists combine their strengths once again to create an album characterized by aesthetic sensitivity, a touch of madness, and a huge dose of skillful musicianship. DRINKS’ sophomore effort doesn’t fall far from its predecessor, but it is equally inventive and entertaining in its spontaneous form. However, if Le Bon and Presley would take a chance on recording an album which would step away slightly more from their comfort zone and their previous methods, Hippo Lite could have the potential to become even more interesting and unconventional. (7/10) (Alicja Rutkowska)
Listen to Hippo Lite by DRINKS here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Alicja Rutkowska, Cate Le Bon, Drag City, Drinks, Hippo Lite, review, Tim Presley
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