In the half decade Kiran Roy, Chris Holmes, Alex Bispham, and Daniel Young have been together as October Drift, the Tauton gents have had to work to gain every like, following, and fan. Without a label behind them and guided by a DIY mentality, the quartet relied on word-of-mouth and exuberant live shows to build their popularity. But when a band combines the brooding anthemic qualities of The National, the pensive explosiveness of Frightened Rabbit, and the youthful angst of ‘90s grunge outfits, it was only a matter of time before someone would sign them. Leave it to Physical Education Recordings – who had Frightened Rabbit and Mastersystem on their roster – to step up and get the foursome’s signatures on a contract. Two months after the signing, October Drift’s debut album has finally arrived.
Forever Whatever is a big, boisterous statement by a band on the rise. It’s not just sonically where October Drift rattles walls, but Roy’s thoughtful and often introspective and observant songwriting hits deeply to the willing listener. With this combination, the high points are more euphoric and the somber moments are more soul-shaking. The opener, “Losing My Touch”, is the appetizer of what is to come. As a wall of fuzzed-out, shoegaze guitars and pounding rhythms fill the air, Roy calmly shares his feelings of losing control. His delivery gives the indication he has accepted his fate.
“I think I’m wasting my breath
With southern sunset back drop we can dance with death.
I think I’m wasting my head
With southern sunset backdrop
All washed out in red.”
“Oh the Silence”, which is arguably the album’s highlight, takes this concept even further through a roaring, adrenaline-inducing rocker worthy of air-guitar windmills and fist pumps. It is the anthem for a people who are trying to make sense of the world around them while overcoming the silence within them. The Stone Temple Pilots-esque “Cherry Red”, meanwhile, is a spiraling, dark rocker that musically and lyrically could be Alice falling into an endless abyss and never finding Wonderland, let alone home.
The exhilarating “Just Got Caught” is The National dialed up several notches, as the Brooklyn-based band’s brooding urgency is elevated to new heights . Roy’s voice even has a touch of Matt Beringer’s baritone and plenty of his songwriting chops. He and his bandmates emotionally recall a self-imposed isolation, the conflict they see unfold before them, and the regret they have.
“So I cut the ties again and turn away,
No one is really fighting anyway.
There’s a war going on, and no one knew it.
We do goodbyes again,
It’s all we say.
Only moving in our cursive way,
There’s a war going on,
And we walked right through it.”
When October Drift dial back the adrenaline-rushing anthems, they still hit hard. On the mid-tempo, wind-swept “Milky Way”, Roy immediately utters, “I’m a ghost and no one see me. The room so cold, I want to blow it down”. The early ‘90s alt-rocker, “Forever Whatever”, is worthy of placement on the soundtrack of Reality Bites or any coming-of-age film from that decade with its slow-building approach and Roy’s anxiety-filled lyrics.
October Drift find another gear to slow down on “Don’t Give Me Hope” and the album’s closer, “The Past”. The former concerns the strength in friendship. Roy’s songwriting is at its peak on the track:
“When we kill our confusion, I’ll step away.
When I see through the illusion that blinds me,
I’ll walk away.”
On the latter, the band looks back to look forward. The song appears to be October Drift peering into the rear-view mirror of what they’ve done in their lives and on this album, and the possibilities that exist before them. As the song reaches its crushing, roaring conclusion, it is impossible to not to think that Roy, Holmes, Bispham, and Young have crafted a memorable record. That their futures are immensely bright. That they are ready to fill the void as the UK’s next great indie-rock band.
The band commences a short UK tour on February 7th. Dates and information available here.
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