DRINKS: Hippo Lite (Drag City) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #63 - Courtney BarnettDRINKS

Hippo Lite

Drag City

Apr 17, 2018 DRINKS Bookmark and Share

Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley are back to serve you more DRINKS. Hippo Lite, the second release from Presley’s White Fence side-project, DRINKS, numbs the ‘60s neo-psychedelia of 2015 debut Hermits on Holiday and instead opts for more discordant instrumentation. Hippo Lite alternates between melodious lullabies, such as “Blue From the Dark,” and more dissonant, Eno-esque jams such as “Real Outside” and “Corner Shops.” In all, Hippo Lite presents itself with the same downtempo, lo-fi sound as did Hermits, but the experimental nature of this new record really sets it apart from work either musician has previously released. Here, the Presley/Le Bon outfit dabbles in synth wave (check out the group Cha Cha Guitri for an interesting comparison) and weaves together Wes Andersen film-worthy lullabies with sharp-edged, avant-garde arrangements.

An emphasis placed on discord and barbarous melodies, Hippo Lite offers up a fairly diverse tracklist of at once opposing sonic DNA. As on most tracks, the foreground features the gorgeous voices of Le Bon and Presley; in the background, more sinister harmonies from audio effects, gritty guitars, and low-profile strings. No song displays these workings better than “Corner Shops,” a masterful blend of warm voices and cold, almost painful, guitar work. The few songs before “Corner Shops,” however display a different palette altogether: “In the Night Kitchen” is a mostly passive instrumental track, and “Greasing Up” is a rather charming and not at all evil love song.

If one could be so bold, it seems as if Hippo Lite can be proportionately bisected, with the more ambient and dream-like first half giving way to the more biting back half. Songs such as “Ducks,” “Leave the Lights On,” and “Pink or Die” all roll in a puddle of discord similar to the one found on “Corner Shops.” The album’s closing track, “You Could Be Better,” however, is an even more grand departure for the group. A hypnotizing blend of violin, guitar, and synthesizer, “You Could Be Better” paints an only slightly unsettling image of a failed relationship. Hippo Lite is as refreshing as one can expect from Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley but this time around, the drinks this pair are serving have a bit more bite. (www.drinks.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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