The South Korean trio, Drinking Boys And Girls Choir have a pretty decent humblebrag about their live shows. The band are often shut down for being too loud, or for sharing anti-police/state-control lyrics. Premature ejection from a gig you’ve paid to see, when the man comes to close it down, always produces very distinct atmosphere. The streets and parking lots around a venue begin to fizz with unease. Crowds never really disperse as they’re meant to disperse. And if you’re calling someone a fascist, and they respond perfectly in-type, by closing you down – they kind of become your backing band. They lend depth to your perspective – and your job, in a strange way, is all the more complete for being left undone.
Drinking Boys And Girls Choir have a new album, it’s called Keep Drinking. A nice, self-referential title goes along way, and here it deepens a commitment from the band to their mission statement. There are eighteen tracks on this album. Two of those tracks sit like exquisite book ends. Opening and closing the sequence are, “KEEP DRINKING!!” and “KEEEEEEEP DRINKING!!!!”. The defiance, encouragement, and exuberance are not small. But the songs usually are, in run time, at least. One track rolls in at over the five-minute mark, but for the main these songs burst their seams a little around one and half, or two minutes. Here we have content and form becoming one. The urgency of this material shaped, perhaps, by the very real threat that we could be shut down at any moment – let’s make our point.
So what is the point?
We’re surrounded by darkness. You could debate that if you like, but you’d be wrong. We. Are. Surrounded. By Darkness. There’s an existential dread at the heart of Keep Drinking, and it’s made material by the usual bad guys that police our culture. The literal cops, McDonalds, the ‘state’ and non-committal lovers, or lovers that refuse to commit. The darkness is the inauthentic other; the thing that prevents connection to the universal truth. The universal truth, of course, can be accessed by drinking – dropping inhibitions, and rocking the fuck out.
Thankfully, Drinking Boys And Girls Choir rock the fuck out.
Formed about six years ago when two drummers, MJ and Meena shared a studio space, this is a band that happens when two beat-minded punks find that they share a mutual drinking capacity, a passion for skateboarding, and… erm, rocking the fuck out. Meena switched from playing drums to bass, Bondu joined and strapped on a guitar. And bang – a band happened.
Keep Drinking was a project that started a couple of years ago. The recording sessions halted when the band took a hiatus – the result of a serious motobike accident that took MJ out of action. Perhaps this scrape with the darkness further informs the urgency of the collection. We’ll be dead soon, let’s drink some booze, and blow some amps. Whatever the existential effect of a break had, it has done nothing to dismantle the continuity of the tracks.
Keep Drinking thunders through it’s sequence with incredible cohesion. No, we don’t get all the nuance, and lyrical puns that unfold. We have second and third languages, but neither language is Korean. Non-Korean speakers are guided through the process by English track titles, that speed passed like graffitied signposts. ‘I’m a fucking McDonalds’, ‘Just Fucking Me’, ‘You Hate Me’, ‘National Police Shit’ – it’s easy to share, and be moved by the emotive intention, if not the literal meaning of all this stuff. There are moments though, where we’re touched by pure melodic brilliance – “Let Me Lost”, in the middle of the flowing cacophony, breezes in like fresh air and dissolves any darkness.
The tightness of the musicianship gives pause. There are some overdubs here and there, maybe, but the synchronicity between a snare and a high-screeched guitar develops a tone that’s hard to hear elsewhere in stuff of this sort.
With some SXSW dates slated for 2019, and then a view of hitting Europe later in the year, it feels like Drinking Boys And Girls Choir have everything to play for. Keep Drinking is a solid foundation for developing their mission statement. Long may they be shut down.
HURRY – BUY – DRINKING BOYS AND GIRLS CHOIR MUSIC