I hate to break it to you guys but I’m not much of a beach guy. Sure, I like laying out in the sun every once in a while to get that sweet, sweet Vitamin D but the beach has never been for me. The sand, the salt, the tourists showing me what years of hard work sitting on a couch looks like: it’s all just too much. If you ever find me on that rare occasion where I do make all the way to the Jersey shore, though, I’ll probably be listening to Drug Tax.
Drug Tax is the debut EP release from Brooklyn band Fruit & Flowers via Little Dickman Records. Even though this seven song EP clocks in just under 30 minutes, it uses every second it has to craft an EP that’s both enjoyable and invigorating.
Fruit & Flowers are doing something pretty original on their debut project: they’ve managed to meld the sounds of post-punk, surf rock, indie, and goth to create a sound uniquely theirs. It’s the perfect beach rocker because it sounds like if surf rock wore black leggings and black lipstick, which just so happens to be my beach attire.
The whole thing kicks off with “Out of Touch” which sets the tone of the project perfectly. The chugging guitars and driving bass line keep the song at the front of my attention the whole way through. The lead and backing vocals are definite highlights for me not just on this track, but on most of the others. You can thank Caroline, the lead singer and bassist, for all that.
“Dark Surf” is another highlight for me. This song sounds like it might fit on Pixies’ Trompe Le Monde but with a little more polish. I love the dissonant guitar work from Ana and Lyz, who both offer amazing vocals as well. This song dives right into the next cut, “Down Down Down” really well, too. “Down Down Down” is definitely one of the more fiery moments on the EP. It’s on tracks like this and “Pick Fairy” that the band incorporates a little pinch of blues guitar work as well. “Drug Tax”, the EP’s title track, has one of the biggest choruses on the whole project. Lyz and Ana’s two channel guitar work on this track is intricate and enthralling, too.
There are a few low points on the EP, though. “Subway Surfer” is probably my least favorite track, only because I feel like the driving guitar riffs and peppy beat sound a little too quirky. For some reason, the shouted “Hey!”s seem a bit silly to me. Unfortunately, the “Hey!”s return on the title track too and they don’t sound any better there either.
The closing track, “Turquoise,” may give us a little taste of where Fruit & Flowers may go to from here. This song has a distinctly different tone than the other tracks on the album. The tremelo’d guitars and reverb soaked vocals put this track in an excising new and somewhat shoegazey space. It’s a great closer to a great debut.
Now, time to find my sunscreen and black leggings, it’s beach time.