Think back to 2016. You may have spent it watching the Olympics, maybe mourning the death of Bowie or Harambe, perhaps you even mentally prepared for the massive erosion our country was about to endure. Things weren’t great, but few could imagine the depths we’d plunge to four years later.
Miles Robinson and Becca Chodorkoff, together as Drug Couple, were part of that few. In 2016, they started writing Choose Your Own Apocalypse, a project preloaded with the knowledge that the world was already lost. But, while it surely contorted in meaning over the writing and recording process, instead of being a roadmap of how and where we went wrong, it emerges today as a lovedrunk refuge from the dark, disheartening world it predicted.
Apocalypse contains some of Miles’ best production. As a seasoned producer who’s worked with the likes of MGMT and Grizzly Bear, his general protocol includes J Mascis-inspired guitars and grooves that sound out of an old Yo La Tengo record. On Apocalypse, though, it sounds as if he’s had nothing but Beck and Belle and Sebastian on rotation. The tracks are slower and more layered, and he employs keys and synths more than he has on previous Drug Couple releases. It results in their smoothest listen yet.
In some ways, Apocalypse is inherently defiant. In a world where there’s so much to pick at, they use these songs as opportunities to profess their love for one another. It sounds cathartic, like they’ve just snatched back a bit of autonomy when they should’ve been thinking about the world’s unending repairs. They sing “This might be our last chance to leave and we’re leaving, we all take a ride,” together on “Mission To Mars.”
It does take a turn for the sappy, though. On “Bottomless,” Becca racks her brain thinking of a gift for Miles to prove her love. She’d write him a song, she croons, but, oh, he’d just write one himself. Right after asserting that she’ll always love him more, she calls herself “happy, young and a little obtuse.” Miles may have more eye-rolling moments, but it’s hard to understand his words underneath all the slurring. He sounds a bit like Damon Albarn who just slurped down some NyQuil.
They’re not lacking creativity, however. “2027” imagines an NYC that’s overrun by a society so grated that they’re nothing but bones. “No Legged Dog,” assures us that those who played a part in abrading our society will soon have their much-deserved reckoning.
A project like this being released right now is refreshing: acknowledging our declining social infrastructure while not letting it dominate your brain folds. Sure, an eye roll may be part of the experience, but that’s love, baby.