Hippo Lite

(Drag City)


DRINKS focus on the more surrealist elements of Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley’s respective projects. Here, the results are otherworldly and unfamiliar, but amidst the visionary weirdness, there’s also a faint hint of nostalgia at play. While ‘Hippo Lite’ sounds fresh and exhilarating, it could also be an undiscovered obscurity from a bygone era.

DRINKS’ debut LP relied on a mutual appreciation for psych, albeit a frantic and singular interpretation of the genre; ‘Hippo Lite’ examines the idea of isolation and the juxtaposition between discord and harmony through the use of field recordings (or “night sounds”), according to Le Bon in the record’s typically cryptic press release.

Opener ‘Blue From The Dark’ counteracts ‘Hippo Lite’’s general chaos, with a nursery rhyme-like refrain that is gentle and introspective. Elsewhere, ‘Real Outside’’s twisted weirdness marries Le Bon’s renowned instrumental jaggedness with erratic, out-of-tune melodies. It’s these nuances – the contrast between light and dark – that bring the record to life.

The use of field recordings as instruments creates a newfound exoticism. ‘In The Night Kitchen’’s sharp guitar and subtle piano elicits fuzzy recollections of distant memories, while nature’s various background noises denotes solitude – a subject that creates the thematic framework of the LP.

One song in particular sums up the peculiar brilliance of this unity, and that’s the penultimate ‘Pink or Die’, a song in which two worlds collide. The interplay between Cate Le Bon’s clear, resonant vocals and Tim Presley’s delicate harmonies adds a sublime, dream-like edge to its organ-filled, wonky pop exterior.

The likes of ‘Hippo Lite’ don’t come around too often: an album that negates the usual connotations of pop music and takes it somewhere completely new. On the surface, it’s a record about contrasts: strange vs. conventional, melody vs. chaos – things that, despite their disparate qualities, go well together. You could say the same about Le Bon and Presley, but some things are made for each other. With DRINKS, I can’t think of a better partnership right now.