Boomkat Product Review:
Boston shoegazers Drop Nineteens return after 30 years with 'Hard Light', a brand new album that features the original lineup from their beloved debut 'Delaware'.
Formed by school friends Greg Ackell and Chris Roof in 1990, with Paula Kelley, Motohiro Yasue and Steve Zimmerman filling the gaps, Drop Nineteens were a short-lived Stateside answer to the UK's shoegaze wave - a tag the band came to resent. They released their debut 'Delaware' in 1992, recording it in the same studio where Pixies recorded 'Doolittle', and it sold surprisingly well, especially in Europe. When they followed it with 'National Coma' in 1993, the band was already breaking apart, leading Ackell to officially call it a day in 1995.
Since then, the appreciation for 'Delaware' has swelled, with the album making it into Pitchfork's list of the top 50 shoegaze albums. They may have bristled at the grouping back in the '90s, but it's enduring popularity has kept them relevant. The band reformed last year and immediately recorded 'Hard Light', an album that harks back to 'Delaware' rather than its less vital follow-up. It's easy to hear why they were lumped in with the shoegaze set: there's traces of MBV, Slowdive, Ride and Chapterhouse all over this one, but Drop Nineteens give it their own twist.
The band are more than capable of writing hooks, and there's a poppiness that subverts the usual miserablist melancholy that weighed down the Thames Valley crew. Tracks like 'Scapa Flow' and 'Gal' tug on the nostalgia strings, but they scrape more abstract territory on 'Rose With Smoke', and try their hands at pristine, Mazzy Star-esque folk with 'Policeman Getting Lost'.