Don’t release everything you record.
Hermits on Holiday is the first collaborative album released by Welsh folk artist Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (Nerve Agents, Darker My Love, White Fence) under the DRINKS moniker. While both are accomplished musicians on their own accord, this record seems like an EP that went horribly sideways halfway through production.
Let’s start with the positive. This record has three wonderful songs that are spacey, dreamy and just a little otherworldly. The first, “Hermits on Holiday,” starts out with Le Bon’s smokey vocals paired with a simple guitar riff over a metronomic beat before blossoming into something that could have come off an early Talking Heads record. The result is a well balanced groove. “Spilt the Beans” sounds like something Nico might have recorded as a follow-up to Chelsea Girl. The formal, structured beginning devolves down to a loose cacophony before reforming into a melding of free-form guitar and a fixed, stable rhythm section. “Time Between” has a hypnotic, psychedelic quality with abstract, distorted vocals. It’s haunting and beautiful in wonderful ways.
Then there are the tracks that come off like unfinished demos; “Laying Down the Rock,” “Focus on the Street” and “She Walks So Fast” fall into this category. There are little moments of wonderful spread out between big chunks of uninteresting repetition interspersed with dashes of “what the actual f***?” The vocals are out of tune and out of time in a way that feels more sloppy than intentional.
The final three tracks come across as ham-handed attempts to freak out the squares in the audience. “Cannon Mouth” and “Cheerio” are interesting for about 20 seconds before they grate on your nerves. “Tim, Do I Like That Dog” is almost unlistenable. The three freak out tracks feel like arch art school pretentious self indulgence.
This album should have either been trimmed back to an EP or sent back for additional polish. There is some stuff to like in here but the listener needs to sift through a record that feels rushed, not fully thought out or finished.