Published Apr 19, 2018Tim Presley and Cate Le Bon should probably stop working together. On their own terms, they're equally brilliant — Presley is the man behind White Fence, who have several albums of masterfully mind-bending psych-pop to their credit, while Cate Le Bon's storied solo career soars higher with each cerebral freak-folk full-length. Together, one would hope their efforts would result in something more than the sum of their parts, but two albums into their collaborative Drinks project, and the opposite is seemingly true.
For Hippo Lite, the daunting duo holed themselves up at an old mill, eight miles high and well off the grid. But where some might find their centre in such a locale, the self-imposed echo chamber seems to have exacerbated their worst individual qualities.
They do manage to capture a few worthy moments. "Corner Shop" is arguably the album's most effective song, itself a happy slice of British neo-psychedelic indie-pop in the vein of Television Personalities, while the little nature flourishes of birds chirping on the reprise of "IF IT" and frogs croaking on "In the Night Kitchen" put the listener right in the thick of the atmosphere in that old mill.
However, most of the tracks unfortunately tread into self-indulgent wank territory, perhaps too clever by a half. The vocals on "Duck" are as abrasive as they are mind-numbing, while "Leave the Lights On" showcases the worst side of the Moldy Peaches and Syd Barrett in terms of repetitive, off-key nonsense. It sounds like they're playing with their toes half the time. Who knows? Maybe they were. Syd Barrett spent a lost weekend doing that. Unfortunately, you would also have to be as high as Syd to really dig this record. (Drag City)