Somerset rockers October Drift came blazing on to the scene in rip-roaring fashion, and continue to deliver hit after hit of impressive bouldering rock anthems and downcast ballads. So upon the release of their largest body of work to date – ‘Stranger Days EP’ – we just had to see what all the fuss was about.
Rattling feedback and the sound of distortion-fuelled guitars awaken from lead single and EP opener ‘Losing My Touch’, it’s an assured sense of boldness that makes your ears prick up and take note. The band’s distinct melancholy rises out from a bittersweet cloud of self-doubt that plagues ‘Losing…’, the track was formed out of worry but it’s the dream of self-fulfilment that they can’t suppress, “This song is about questioning whether it’s all worth it, or whether we’re just chasing a deluded dream whilst we watch other opportunities pass us by”, explains singer Kiran Roy.
The two tracks that serve as the EP’s filling (‘Champagne’ , ‘Still Here’) work as comfort blankets to the trailblazing sonics that bookend them. Although ‘Champagne’ does provide a lighter lyrical heart, of a mind that is beseeched with longing for companionship. Yet sonically, they choose not to stray too far from the comforts of a gentle sway, never building on any significant progressions, and concluding in a hazy build up of cacophonous noise. The track doesn’t begin to show October Drift at their inventive best, and subsequently it leaves no strong after-thoughts, just a feeling of downplayed achievement.
But as we move into ‘Still Here’, the mood revives itself with the gentle lull of scratchy twangs of bass and pungent atmospherics that are sent sky high by Roy’s emotive and thoughtful introspection. The track soars with a burning passion, glistening with the band’s staple counter for impactful but subtle imagery.
Each track on ‘Stranger Days’ acts as a patchwork of the band’s self, documenting youthful whims, unshakeable fears and romantic longing. EP closer ‘I Left My Heart in Amiens’ works to break the wheel and throws off any misguided assumptions that question the band’s ambitious nature. ‘Amiens’ is a game-changer. At first sight, it is a simple downbeat ballad that rests in minimalist production and gloomy ambiguity, but peeking just beneath the surface is a monster waiting to be uncaged. Soon turning angry with a vengeance, in spite of its sullen tone, heavy reverb and distortion fill the space. Making for an alluring, if not slightly claustrophobic climax to the stunning pessimistic commentary on today’s direction-less generation, lingering long after closing is the overarching statement: “fate lies where the wind blows…”
‘Stranger Days’ is out now on Scruff of the Neck Records. Buy it on iTunes here.