Written by Simon Diplock
Somewhere in the past, October Drift might have been massive. Their sturdy-but-swirling indie rock would have impressed a post-punk crowd some 30 years ago, no doubt, or maybe worked wonders at the height of Britpop. Here in the present, however, while sporadically promising something special, they feel a little too tame to triumph.
The Somerset, U.K. four-piece don’t really do anything wrong on their debut album Forever Whatever on Physical Education Records; it’s just that they don’t much to move you either. Opener “Losing My Touch” wraps a blissful, shoegaze sound around hooks that are big but never slick, and the unique drumming and fuzzy chorus of “Oh the Silence” deserve mention, but as the album continues, things to start to feel a little flat and a little monotonous.
Too much of Forever Whatever sounds like it’s been picked off a shelf and slot into place. And shopping-list titles like “Cherry Red,” “Milky Blue,” and “Cinnamon Girl” don’t help.
October Drift ticks a ton of indie rock boxes, but things improve massively when they draw outside of them. The end of “Don’t Give Me Hope” proves the band knows how to get loud and direct if they want to, and “Naked,” stripped back but still lush with piano, strings, and reverb, cuts through the grey. But they don’t go adventuring anywhere near enough. Instead of epic cuts destined for club nights and festival headline slots, we get only briefly engaging moments and not enough lasting impact.
On the contrary, the band’s live shows have been making a mark. They play with vim, vigor, and electricity and will make new fans with every show. In the future, October Drift should do their utmost to ignore standards and stereotypes and capture that sort of experience on record.