Driver Drive Faster - Open House (Akoustik Anarkhy)

Manchester band defy your expectations.

Released Jun 20th, 2011 via Akoustik Anarkhy / By Mark Beckett
Driver Drive Faster - Open House (Akoustik Anarkhy) If the first you'd heard of a band was that they were based in Manchester and they'd covered The Happy Mondays' baggy anthem 'Step On', you'd be forgiven for thinking they were maraca-wielding, arm-swinging, Jackson Pollock-clad, drugged up to the eyeballs, t-shirts down to the ankles, 'mad fer it', Madchester revivalists, who spend their days in the sunsheeeiiiine mourning the death of the Hacienda and Factory Records with a couple of E's and a can of coke. But then you see the album cover, and you go 'oh no, they're intelligent lads full of delicate piano ballads, innocent lyrics and a modern take on 60s pop and Americana.' And you're right.

You'd even be forgiven for thinking that on the first listen, their debut album Open House sounds like a band that's been thrown together and are quite frankly no good. In fairness, with frontman Dylan and Japanese-born bassist Yuri hailing from Torquay, keyboardist Peet from Durham and David on drums a later recruitment who was recommended to the group as 'excellent' but 'very German', they may have been thrown together somewhat. After a few listens however, the eclectic range of styles on offer begin to compliment each other.

The fusion of new and old may initially fry your brain and shape it into a large mound of musical touchstones, but it begins to makes sense if you take it for what it is, which is the brilliance of the 60s brought into the 21st century without all the complications in-between. 'One Last Look' has more than a hint of The Beatles, whereas the blend of acoustic guitar and lunar soundscapes on 'Don't Fall Apart' hark back to Space Oddity-era Bowie. Though don't think this is a bunch of indie kids clawing at the surface of the mold and giggling to each other when you don't get the references in a clandestine sort of way, it actually turns out to be as innocent and pretty as the peacock that adorns its cover.

There's a lot of variation on Open House and as expected some of it works more than others, but essentially DDF are at their best when the music is stripped down to lazy strummed guitars, jaunty keys, jangly riffs, raw drums and effortless vocals. This is none more evident than on 'Missing Out', with its Lennon-esque loftiness and increasing intensity with every chord change.

At the heart of the album 'Can't Afford to Rely on Pate' with its haunting piano chimes, motown drumming and an alarmingly raw guitar solo, provides further proof that ballads are their speciality, whilst the delightfully languid 'Oxygen' ascends into choral backing vocals and ethereal scatterings of piano. These are also the songs that Dylan's vocals lend most naturally too, the variation of low crooning and high-pitched gasps create a breathtakingly dramatic feel. On the other hand, when it comes to the more dancey tracks, the vocals don't hold up too well amidst the jamboree of sprightly melodies.

Open House's upbeat offerings act as a bit of a wake up call after periods of indolent haziness. 'It's All Over It's Everywhere' and 'Gravel Dents' blend 60s influences with Indie disco quite naturally, with the aid of hooky guitar riffs and vociferous keys. Occasionally some tackiness seeps through into the quicker tracks, mainly born out of over-complication and all too sickly-sweet vocals, but this is forgiven at the mere sound of Dylan's funk-drenched guitar interludes.

It's evident that DDF have worked incessantly on making this record. Every riff, every tinkling of piano, every sound effect, evey 'oooh oooh oooh oooh' backing vocal perfected far beyond their threshold of sanity. And to think they were nearly written off as council-estate mancs singing about pills, Lambert & Butler and Carling. To think the peacock was ever doubted. We are not worthy.