In 2015, Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley of the lo-fi psych-rock project White Fence teamed up under the name DRINKS to release one album of idiosyncratic outsider-pop called Hermits On Holiday. And now, three years later, they’ve done it again. Hippo Lite — named for Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort, the small town in southern France where the duo spent a month recording the album together — arrives in April, and today they’re sharing “Real Outside,” a beautifully strange bit of primitivistic post-punk that finds an odd sort of groove in its herky-jerky rhythm. Listen.
This is how Le Bon describes the album:
A month spent in an old mill in the under belly of France. River swimming thrice a day. Hot nights soundtracked by the rattle of randy frogs. Scorpion fear. In the sheets, on the face.
Hours of bird watching — no phone service. No Wifi. 3 DVDs. Jurassic Park 1, 2, & 3. Violin practice. Bread scoffing.
Early morning coffee drinking before the sun was too hot to do anything but snooze in the thick walled house. Music in the afternoon after a dip in the river and a cold beer on the square.
An album made for each other by one another with no hands, eyes, or ears piercing the bubble other than that of dear friend Stephen Black who kept note of it all.
This is how Presley describes it:
In a town, so very still and quiet. A month in St. Hippolyte Du Fort, South France.
Where completely all of their brave young men vanished forever from the death machine of the first world war.
At one time left with only women and young girls. Only relics of time standing still.
All the deceased names of men chiseled under a stone angel, that watches over the town square.
We set up a recording unit in an old stone mill turned house and began to write and record with the attention of tree trimmers or gardeners.
It got so hot we had to swim in a local river near by just to be able to think, then back to our home to make sounds and songs. Any sounds we could think of or wanted.
We used night sounds, night insects and used frogs as instruments. Did you know frogs have saxophones in their throats?
This is a broken music. a crumble. It’s the music of the building we called home for a month. We’ve never made & recorded music in such a simple living environment.
With all the ease, and air we needed. We were in a town 8 miles over from Robert Crumb’s hidden residence.
We lived in a mysterious place.
We had a flock of bats over for dinner many nights. No internet, or a phone to look to.
We had a beautiful big stone house, a river, and from time to time a lovely elderly yet young-hearted couple who would visit.
It was the opposite of what a typical recording experience usually is for any of us.
We tried to capture all of this and put it on record.
And this is how Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox describes it:
I have not listened to anything except the new Drinks album … At first I was like, this is a mind fuck. Then I became addicted. It is totally brilliant.
01 “Blue From The Dark”
02 “IF IT”
03 “Real Outside”
04 “When I Was Young”
05 “In The Night Kitchen”
06 “Greasing Up”
07 “Corner Shops”
08 “IF IT… (Reprise)”
10 “Leave The Lights On”
11 “Pink Or Die”
12 “You Could Be Better”
Hippo Lite is out 4/20 on Drag City. Pre-order it here.