The Drowning Men - All of the Unknown
Record Label: Borstal Beat Records
Release Date: July 17, 2012
If you’re looking for pure passion and extremely well arranged instrumentation, leaving big hooks and pop tendencies aside, then All of the Unknown might be just what you need to complete your search. It is the third release from indie-rock group The Drowning Men, who formed out of Oceanside, California in 2006 and since have toured with artists such as Flogging Molly, Alkaline Trio, and The Airborne Toxic Event. On this record, the band, comprised of Nathan Bardeen (vocals), James Smith (guitar), Rory Dolan (drums), Todd Eisenkerch (bass), and Gabriel Messer (keyboards), offers some contrast to their past releases, but contains plenty of tracks that fans of the older material may enjoy.
The album opens with the inviting “Lost In A Lullaby,” kicking things off up-tempo, giving the listener a memorable chorus and outro, in which you may find yourself singing along to by the end of the track. After the appropriately titled second track “The Waltz,” comes “Bored In A Belly,” a track in which opens up with music straight out of a carnival. Just as you’re wondering where they’re going with the song, the circus comes to a close, and a dark buildup leads you into the verse, where the carnival feel is revisited. It is certainly a grower, and perhaps an acquired taste, but the best is yet to come as the latter half of the album nears.
“Smile” and “A Fool’s Campaign” are debatably the catchiest songs on the record, and may be considered more “likeable.” They are about as poppy as The Drowning Men will get on this release, but who said poppy was always a good thing? “I Am The Beggar Man” is reminiscent of previous songs on the album, and it leads you into an interlude of sorts; “Life In The Willow Tree.” The soothing instrumental, lasting only about one minute, prepares you for the album’s highlight, “A Long, Long Walk.” Driven by an old piano and distorted vocals, this track is covered in passion. Bardeen’s vocals are chilling, as he cries out to his lost love, “Slow down, Maria.” The waltzy ballad is unlike anything else on the album, but is indeed a standout. Right after “A Long, Long Walk,” the band goes back to its standard indie sound with “Fix Me Love.” A funky bass line is upfront in the mix, and is complimented by sustained guitar chords and carefully placed synth riffs. Strings dance around the vocal melody in the chorus, perfectly filling in musical gaps between lyrics. It is the most danceable and fun song offered. Somehow, before you know it, you’re at the end of the ride, with the short but sweet piano ballad, “A Better Place,” closing it out with the line “I’ll take one last breath.”
The songs on their own are enjoyable, but as an album, it lacks consistency. The flow of song into song is missing, specifically towards the end of the record. By no means should this stop you from checking it out though, as it is an entertaining listen. You may find yourself wondering what they will do next as each track goes by, and many times it will not be what you’d expect, but it certainly does not disappoint.