cleopatrick Give Drums-and-Guitar Rock a Hip-Hop Twist on 'BUMMER'
Published Jun 02, 2021Hailing from what is described self-deprecatingly as Nowheretown in their press release, we feel it our patriotic duty to inform you that promising drums-and-guitar duo cleopatrick's debut LP was actually cooked up in the quiet town of Cobourg, ON. Made up of childhood friends Luke Gruntz and Ian Fraser, the Canadian pair deliver a solid offering of fuzzed-out garage rock on their first outing, and while much of your appreciation of BUMMER may derive from a prior affinity for stripped-down drums-and-guitar rock generally, their deft weaving of hip-hop elements into their sound is an interesting twist that sets the album apart from the usual two-person riff-fests.
But riffs there certainly are on BUMMER, and excellent grooves too, and plenty of pounding, cathartic moments throughout. The energy is impressively confident and mature for a debut, with Gruntz and Fraser having clearly been playing together for years, likely even learning their instruments alongside each other. There's definitely a unique energy that comes out of the music of super close relationships like this — there's a reason guitar and drum arrangements remain a viable choice, despite being limiting in other respects. And while Gruntz and Fraser definitely reap the benefits of the setup (effortless, locked-in synergy and an almost psychic give-and-take), their palette is obviously restricted by it as well, and intimacy, no matter how skilfully dialled-in, can lead to claustrophobia after a while.
The hip-hop spin they add is a pretty effective solution though, creating space and rhythmic possibilities that might not have sounded natural otherwise. It's fairly slight, a quick inflection here, some weighted phrasing there, but it all flows smoothly and never sounds forced or self-conscious in the way so many contrived rap bridges or interludes do. More than anything, it just sounds thoroughly contemporary, in the sense that syncopated vocal delivery is common in popular music across the board at this point. It would be an overstatement to say it's the album's defining feature however; the pair are mostly rocking pretty hard on BUMMER, with a slide into soulful, Kings of Leon-style emotiveness here and there.
Some additional layers wouldn't hurt next time around, and perhaps some brighter, more varied production when the opportunity arises, but this is a solid, high-energy debut from a pair that definitely has their style figured out already, with lots of room to build. (Nowhere Special/Thirty Tigers)