Always Be Drunk
The cover imagery and titles suggest something of the '90s' strain of British albums revolving around dark pubs, moody late nights, and emotions rubbed just raw enough to surface. Mellow Drunk's debut album, however, turns out to be more Byrds and the Church than Scott Walker and Tindersticks, though there is definitely something of whispery melancholy throughout Always Be Drunk. Gregory's background in various psych/goth-inspired groups serves him well here, and clearly there's something of Steve Kilbey's world-weary vocals in his own approach. There's a fair dollop of ultra vivid Scene as well, minus the nods to dance culture and overtly twisted sex, but Gregory can sigh in Kurt Ralske-style nicely. Musically, meanwhile, those who can't get enough of ringing-guitar sorrow and wistful, dreamy melodies will find Always Be Drunk a more than engaging listen; it's not strikingly original, but makes no claims to be. Indeed, 'Everybody Knows You're a Star' might as well be the verses from John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy' transposed into a new setting with elegantly weeping feedback, but darn if the group doesn't carry it off well. There is actually one full-on cover from an inspired source, underrated U.K. guitar popsters the Orchids, whose 'Long Drawn Saturday Night' gets a beautifully winsome rendition; with Aaron Kerr's cello part the perfect touch. Leigh Gregory is actually pretty much the group on this outing; aside from a cellist, drummer, and two backing singers, everything is his, aside from a couple of guest appearances here and there. As such he does a great job on rhythm and solos both, and if Always Be Drunk rapidly finds it's niche and pretty much sticks with it, there's little to complain about with the results. Ned Raggett, All Music Guide.