I give my copy of This Book Belongs To its first tentative spins one gloomy Tuesday morning in August. The first notes of Drew Thams’ acoustic guitar hit my ears as I sit at the back of a cafe, staring out at the English summer rain and feeling unusually contemplative. As the gentle yet steady drum groove goes softer and Thams’ voice kicks in, I realise this is just the soundtrack for today.
The Liquorsmiths’ moniker is rooted in the San Diego craft alcohol culture and in some of the members’ pasts as working bartenders. But I find nothing in the music that suggests hard-partying superficiality. This is serious music, unabashedly emotional and multi-layered.
The second track and lead single, Get Well Soon, shakes things up with an uptempo groove and a guitar lick that would not sound amiss on a banjo. The mood is however soon dialled back to introspective with Iris’ Song. This is not a bad thing. The melancholy guitar is bolstered by deceptively simple keyboard lines and tastefully counterpointed by some really deft drum work.
Thief reminds me of Placebo’s slower moments, until the drums start pumping whilst judicious use of electronic elements cleverly preserve the atmosphere.
The EP is rounded off by the more playful Devil I Do and Day By Day, which ends the proceedings on a rousingly uplifting note.
The Liquorsmiths are surprisingly versatile, and even though they label themselves Folk Rock, there is clearly an eclectic well of influences seething below the surface.
Most incredibly, perhaps, they have only been together as a band since 2014. Their cohesiveness and the maturity of their sound is testament to the individual members’ musical prowess. The drumming is especially worthy of note – nuanced and intricate playing that adds to the songs whilst remaining firmly in the background. This is no mean feat.
This Book Belongs To is a tremendous effort, one that keeps rewarding the listener with every spin.