The Drowns - Lunatics [EP] (Cover Artwork)

The Drowns

Lunatics [EP] (2022)

Pirates Press Records

Big cock(Sparrer) energy is what The Drowns are channeling in their newest EP, Lunatics. From holding fast to holding their own, Lunatics is tangible proof that The Drowns have finally come of age.

Hot off the heels of January’s single release “Know Who You Are” and b-side track “Guidelines Of Control”, the Seattle based four piece is presenting six songs of working class skinhead rock n’ roll in it’s finest form with a release that is sure to be a reconciliation for the proverbial cock(blocking) that the Covid-19 pandemic created for touring bands, but these guys especially.

The mini album is a noticeable shift for the band, almost as if they’ve ascended from the previous album’s earnest yet frustrated themes of hoping, dreaming, and wishing things were better to a more driven mindset - it seems they’ve finally taken life by the proverbial horns and are no longer waiting for things to just happen to them.

The Drowns also seem to have found their voices by not only standing firm in what they believe in lyrically , but by revamping their music with a fresh new sound that’s clearly influenced by early heavy metal and mid century music. ‘Sparrer aside, The Jam, Slade, AC/DC, and even contemporary acts like the Suede Razors are all channeled throughout the EP, which has a much more lighthearted overall feel than their earlier pre-pandemic work.

On a personal note, it was both difficult and frustrating to watch the pandemic stall this band in particular. Despite making it out of town for a short West Coast run in early 2020, the potential of the stellar 10 track album was left mostly unactualized as we all sat and waited while one long lockdown year quickly turned into two, and during that time the world quite literally changed right before our eyes.

With an even number of tracks evenly distributed between the two vocalists: three songs for guitar player Aaron ”Rev” Peters and three for bassist Andy Wylie, tracks lyrically cover every topic from being on tour abroad to BLM, their more familiar themes of capitalism, politics, greed plus what’s now become a familiar ode to the important women in their lives, Lunatics delivers as a coming of age offering from The Drowns who have in a sense turned a corner with their work in terms of confidence, maturity, growth, and well… swagger.

And *swagger* is exactly how I’d describe the EP’s first track and single, “Live Like You’re Dyin’”, released in January of this year. Drummer Jake Margolis kicks it off with a cascade of percussion that hits like a drop kick to the face followed by Rev’s jangly, catchy guitar riffs and determined vocals. Anthemic of the pandemic with lyrics that could easily fit into a honky tonk or country western tune, the FTW type message is enrobed in a good old fashioned feel good skinhead rock n’ roll song that immediately gets your head bobbing along with it. Two years exactly after releasing an album called Under Tension, hearingLive Like You’re Dyin’” is not only a breath of fresh air but almost a coded message of sorts regarding just how much this band has changed.

Another prominent thing about the first track that carries through to almost all the rest of the songs on the EP: Andy Wylie’s bass playing. In fact, in terms of his vocal and instrumental quality I have never heard him play or sound better with the maturity and confidence he’s gained as a musician beyond obvious as he takes over singing on “Lunatics”, the title track of the EP and second single released in April 2022. A politically tinged song that reminds me a lot thematically of “Them Rats” or “Wolves” off the previous album, it’s a catchy track that well spotlights Wylie’s vocal range. The song is another anthemic singalong that sounds like a cross between cockSparrer and The Jam which I suspect will translate well in their live shows.

“The Working Dead” is the title to Andy Wylie’s second vocal track, one that has a similar energy to ‘Sparrer’s “Working” - a clean, catchy, clever working man’s anthem about the all too familiar feeling of being at a nowhere job and the fact that in reality, everyone is just doing the best they can. Wylie conjures the irony of being a professional touring musician and the instant humility brought about by being a rockstar on tour one week, a kitchen worker the next, and the continuous, mindfuck cycle of it all. His third and final vocal contribution “Tokyo Red Alert” is an upbeat jammy song about things going askew while on tour in Japan and has a beginning that sounds suspiciously a lot like the beginning to “Valerie”. All in all, the tracks each individually deliver.

Fans of “Cue The Violins” off Under Tension will love track number four, “She’s A Knife”. Once again The Drowns have penned their homage to the modern day badass woman, and if AC/DC, The Harrington Saints, and the Old Firm Casuals spat out a feminist friendly sing along hand clapper sung by Rev Peters who’s serving major scissor jump kick off the bass drum energy with this banger, served hot with an arena rock flavored topping. About a take no shit, ass kickin’ bad bitch, the track could be about anyone from a first responder to a stay at home mom who is not the one to try it with. “She the one your mama warned you about - OH YEAH” growls Peters in his signature snarl, leading the group through a song they all obviously enjoy playing - you can hear the enthusiasm permeating through the music.

Peters dials it down a notch in his next track, “Look What We’ve Become”. A rare acoustic based track for The Drowns, Rev sings in a softer voice about all the political, social, and societal changes he’s watched over the past few years as he reflects back on his life as an adult. Giving major “Telegraph Avenue” by Rancid vibes, the song is touching lyrically and Peters sings in a way you wish you could hear him sound more often. A much more genuine tone than the growling, Tom Waits-y register he’s come to be known for, it sometimes takes courage to use a softer voice and in this instance it translates incredibly well to the more serious tone of the song that still comes out sounding quite beautifully in the end.

The public and fan impact of Lunatics remains yet unknown as of now a couple days pre-release, but what I am sure of is that this is The Drowns’ way of staking a larger claim for themselves in the music industry in a major way. It seems that with this six song release, the band has gone from: “Is this what I’ll be doing my life?” to “This is what I’ll be doing with my life.” The energy, enthusiasm, humility, and optimism this EP conjures is exactly what we all need rolling into the best summer we’re about to have in years. The Drowns have stepped it up with Lunatics, an EP release that takes a bold foray into a fresh new sound while paying homage to their major influences.