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Drowner - You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You (2013) review

Drowner ‘You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You’ (Saint Marie, 2013)

The debut full-length from this Houston quartet builds on their earlier EP to cement their place amongst the best of the Nu-gaze crop of guitar-based post-rockers. The wall of guitars atmospherics blend perfectly with vocalist Anna Bouchard’s ephemeral embellishments which add a romantic aura to the treated guitar effects. Fans of The Cure will find familiar signposts amid Darren Emanuel’s cascading, melodic guitar lines, particularly on tracks like “On Bright Days” and “Stay With Me”, which could easily have been Wish or Disintegration outtakes.

“Automatic Zen” nicely separates the loud/soft dynamics to highlight Bouchard’s heart-melting vocals, while the thousand-yard-stare of “Mirror” effectively captures the band’s sensitive side by effectively introducing forlorn piano interludes. It’s here that the evocative album title elicits a “light bulb” moment – the dichotomy of beautiful, occasionally whispered vocals weaving around shards-of-glass guitars is perfectly represented by the merciful resignation of meeting someone whose beauty has gotten them further than their personality.

Side two is full of late night melancholia like “You” and the quiet, dreamy “Not There”, wherein the band’s floating, Cocteau Twins’ influences come to the fore, particularly their Harold Budd collaboration, The Moon and The Melodies. “Our Last Day” may be the year’s most tearjerking breakup song, and Bouchard pulls out all the stops with her yearning pleas battling a wall of glistening guitar noise that metaphorically keep pushing her away. 

The band is not afraid to venture into soft and tender love song territory, checking the head-bashing guitar onslaughts at the door for cascading waterfall moments like “Fear of Falling” and “Shadow” which demonstrate that bombastic noise may not be the best way into your lover’s heart!
Saint Marie have quietly, yet quickly emerged as one of the year’s finest purveyors of Nu-gaze, post rock wonderfulness, introducing us to new bands and sounds that effectively build upon their 80s and 90s influences to offer a breath of fresh air amidst all that American Idol chatter. Side Two of You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You may be their best collection of music yet, and the entire disk is one of the year’s finest.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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