Drug Couple: Stoned Weekend (Album Review)
Like a crystal ball, sometimes an above-average record transcends its boundaries in hinting at the potential greatness to come. This is the backdrop for Drug Couple’s latest release, stoned weekend: a little uneven, generally successful, but which boasts of having a facet of breathtaking songs not to be missed. If Drug Couple can recognize and focus on these strengths, their next album should be a knockout. And those of us who were here first can say we saw it coming all along.
Synergy is an ephemeral quality, impossible to anticipate or predict. Prior to teaming up with partner Becca in 2017, Miles Robinson had already amassed a sizable solo discography. His output in the mid-2000s included work with members of Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio. But rock history is littered with tales of newly added band members who propelled already established bands to groundbreaking heights. Neil Peart, Tommy Shaw and of course Ringo Starr come to mind. Just a guess, but judging by Miles’ previous catalog, Becca’s positive musical influence here can’t be overstated. There is a broad melodic sensibility to stoned weekend not only devoid of previous versions of Miles, but often non-existent. This striking growth is continuous and clearly evident, even compared to DC’s previous record in 2020, Choose your own apocalypse.
If Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always” contains some of the most plaintive male/female rock vocals ever recorded on tape – with Sinead O’Connor guesting on The The Heartbreaking “Kingdom of Rain” up close – then Drug Couple’s “Our missed chance” is everything a rock duo should be. Miles chirps as Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, while Becca harmonises angelically above. They create real sonic sorcery on this tune like medieval alchemists let loose in a recording studio. The result is stoned weekend effervescent lodestar and one of the best songs of 2022 so far.
This sonic winning streak continues with the country strum of “Lemon Trees,” a compelling homage to the Eagles (if such a thing exists) filled with glowing slide guitar. Then, in what is the record’s penultimate climax and the most meticulous homage to Dinosaur Jr., “Linda’s Tripp” veers from Guess Who-style four-beat rhythm to jam rock, with the ghostly harmonies of Becca covering every transition. The hungover title track, the meandering Americana of “Blue Water” and the Lobo-esque 1970s throwback “Ben & Bongo” are also worth your while.
So where does stoned weekend be mistaken? With a few exceptions, halfway through. After a stellar and rewarding Side One, the band bogs down in soupy distortion (“Our December”), uninspired Mazzy Star meanderings (“Wyld Chyld”) and an ill-advised rehearsal exercise called “Little Do I Know “. Closing tune “Still Stoned” is a passable cover of the drugged but barely essential title track in this context. Despite their success elsewhere, this loss of momentum on Side Two is a major disappointment; the game is supposed to last four quarters, after all. A heretical solution in our current streaming universe? Mix-n-match some tunes from the previous one apocalypse EP, which contained interesting tracks such as “2027”, “No Legged Dog” and “Missing to Mars”.
Drug Couple is a relatively new duo learning to write and record well together. For true music fans, watching a promising set mature offers a wonderful listening experience – leaving us wanting more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Going forward, we hope that Drug Couple steers its bar in the right direction.