Tense is the energetic quality that comes to mind when listening to Heathens, Owl Drugs’ debut recording. This isn’t as much a commentary on the style of music being played as it is the feeling that creeps up while listening to it, like you’re waiting for the pieces to fly off and hurt somebody as the turbulence they create threatens to loosen the screws holding everything together. The end product is kind of grubby, kind of loud, kind of scary and kind of alienating but empowering in its delivery all the same.
Hard-hitting and edgy drum-work adds substance while singer Ryan Scott’s mentally fragile voice, though drowning slightly in the mix, adds tension. This combined with ragged blasts of guitar-work make for some interesting and not so traditionally fleshed out songs that suffer a little due to what appears to be a shameless nod to Fugazi throughout, which is fine in controlled doses and when you’re Fugazi. But aside from that, Heathens is a good time. “Where The Whores Are Headed” gets a gold star for sheer drive and “When Spring Rolls Around…” is just plain awesome.
In the end Owl Drugs may not be for everyone. This is another one of those bands that sound good on tape but probably just kill it live and if Scott’s salad days in Deadsure and Sparkmarker are any indication of their potential for power then certainly this band is one not to be missed.