There was already a bit of mystery around producer Chris Dexter Greenspan aka oOoOO, a pioneer of witch house with initial releases on the late Tri Angle Records, and collaborator Islamiq Grrrls, the Bosnian-Muslim singer/producer who has in the past only gone by the name Asia. Together, they released Faminine Mystique, an instrumentally warped, spacious project with towering guitar solos and angelic synths. Now, newly minted as Drab City, the two craft music that is less ambient and more pop, but still maintains a curious wistfulness.
Their latest single from their forthcoming debut album Good Songs For Bad People has bits of swanky psychedelic production with alluring cat eye-vocals. The opening dialogue bit brings to mind ’60s girl groups; the twangy winding electric guitars with mellow funk drumbeats would find a cozy home on the legendary Daptone Records. Its nostalgia drips melancholically. The lyrics detail a “troubled girl” who lives in a miserable town and wears a permanent grimace. During the verses, Asia sings from the view of the protagonist who is adamant about her escape. Then during the chorus, her voice is layered and further away as if an omnipresent guardian watches over her, singing, “You don’t know you own whatever they will never have.”
By song’s end, we’re left with a suave breakdown and no confirmation that our heroine has made it out of her grim circumstances. Yet, when I think about how feminine youth can be easily discredited, exploited, or manipulated, whether by a bully at school or the corporate music industry, I like the vague, yet hopeful sentiment Drab City leaves us with. That there’s an inherent spark, spunk, or wisdom that can’t be extinguished for those just trying to find their own, honest way.