As a non-stop talker, it is rare for me to be lost for words, but Drab City seem to have rendered me speechless. Their debut album Good Songs for Bad People, due for release on June 12th is a compilation of dark and mysterious tracks that possess a hauntingly atmospheric quality that seems to seep into your bones. It opens with the mind-boggling “Entering Drag City”, which sets the tone perfectly. Distorted and irksome melodies are dark and unnerving. This darkness carries itself though the remaining nine tracks in various forms.
“Working For The Men” is dreamy, with melodies sifting in and out of the musical consciousness. It starts bright with a repeated guitar riff and soft muted flute but it dips into darkness. The guitar melody is on an aggressively exact loop that supports the muted vocals and drags you down into an inescapable trance. A Spanish guitar gives some light relief at the end of the track, which acts as a palette cleanser for the rest of the album.
Good Songs for Bad People bounces through many musical genres including hip-hop, dream-pop and jazz but it is evident that Drab City also likes to inject some level of theatrics into their tracks. Starting with a dramatic flair, “Troubled Girl” quite literally tells the story of a ‘troubled little girl, from a small troubled town, with nowhere to go’. The tempo of the track is that of a weary wander and picks up with a subtle level of funk that is both sultry and mysterious. Moving into the instrumental section at the end of the track, it transforms with some chill extraterrestrial vibes, creating something truly otherworldly.
Old-school sci-fi vibes are in abundance in male-vocal dominated “Problem”. This track places itself on the darker side of ’70s psychedelia. The slow pace and wavering melodies are intermittently interjected with various musical motifs but what really drags you out of this perfectly formed musical lull is the hypnotic spoken section in the middle. Maybe it’s because it’s French spoken word or because the track moves at such a slow pace, but it transports your mind to somewhere dark and melancholy.
Good Songs for Bad People is thought provoking and hits on a darkness that is difficult to manifest musically. What is really special is its soundtrack quality. It sounds like a musical manifestation of Twin Peaks, but more grounded in the current reality. It is haunting and despite my attempt to describe it, I still feel like I’m missing out on something deeper, something that can’t be understood. And that mystery, mixed with Drab City’s encompassing understanding of music; honestly, as debut albums go, it doesn’t really get any better than this.