Drab Majesty make a left-field turn to imbue their new wave sound with something much richer and evocative to great effect. An Object In Motion signals great change for the duo.

Release date: August 25, 2023 | Dais Records | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Stream/Purchase

There’s a lot of directions you can take new wave in as it’s so indebted to different things. There’s a gothic darkness to it, punk forwardness and energy, but also this synthetic and poppy proclivity that made some of the hottest bands and their hits of the 1970s and ’80s. Like, who doesn’t love The Cure and Depeche Mode, right? Drab Majesty are one of those acts that carry that torch so well into the new millennium. Their first new project of this current decade, An Object In Motion, really shows the amount of growth the LA duo have had personally and artistically, but also the growth that can take place from its humble new wave, post-punk core.

Truly, this album is like hands and arms reaching out and connecting to others with the friendliest handshake possible. There’s so many shades of music here, everything so richly textured, I feel it’s impossible not to fall for. While no single element nor the combination of them are unique per se, An Object In Motion expertly combines so much and keeps it somewhat minimal. Inspired by a trip to coastal Oregon where it was written and conceptualized, you can feel that sort of beauty within. The Bandcamp page for this album calls it a ‘pastoral melancholia‘ and I think that’s spot-on – flanked by the natural wonder of the world, the simplicity of it all can be isolating, maybe even bittersweet, especially if you’re used to the hustle of city or even suburban life, but challenging what we know can be a great catalyst for our personal growth and understanding. This is the kind of ethos that I think the album title gets at – we’re all just objects in motion.

No matter your life’s pace though, there’s a lot to love about this mini-album. Four songs and over 32 minutes long, this is pretty far and away Drab Majesty‘s best work yet. “Vanity” is the most Drab Majesty song here; old fans will be right at home with the mostly straightforward, wistful new wave, completed as a vocal duet with Slowdive‘s Rachel Goswell. The acoustic guitars build from an unassuming accompaniment to the eventual wave of sound they contribute to at the end with a vocal refrain and a whining electric guitar that passes us onto “Cape Perpetua”, where things really start to get interesting. This is an instrumental track, but one with a lot of depth and influence from its surroundings where it took form. I get some early Steven Wilson vibes from the progression of the song and the way the acoustic guitars are always centered. They’re delightful as if warmed by the sun, yet still carry this forlorn quality of impending clouds. I love the melodies here, reminiscent of the clean guitar work that YES would do early on, and look forward to them every time the album loops.

“The Skin And The Glove” is one of the brightest tracks Drab Majesty have ever produced. Resembling more of a pop rock hit from the ’90s, it’s flush with late summer drive vibes, parting the clouds that were implied with “Cape Perpetua”. Lead vocals are done by Mona D. here instead of Deb Demure (though he still does backing vox) and I can’t remember another time when Mona sang like this before. Drab Majesty hyperfans, fact check me in the comments, but regardless I love the lushness he brings to the track with a higher register than Deb – it complements well. The lyrics are quite relatable as well:

I can see the days
Flashing frames of time
Passing through the mind
It’s too late to find yesterday
So we lay down, down
And we sleep so sound

Again, it’s really riding on this coastal town feeling of being entrenched in nature on all sides and being at peace with that, even at the cost of some loneliness or longing for something different or in the past. It’s such a comforting feeling that this track gives off. It reminds me something Brian Campeau did on Old Dog, New Tricks. One of the duo’s best yet.

Finally, “Yield To Force”, an epic 15-minute song, almost as long as the first three combined, wraps up An Object In Motion. Another instrumental, this is very much out of the ordinary for Drab Majesty. This is where you truly feel the shift in sound and maybe even mission for them. It’s long and winding like a slow trip through a foggy river of technicolor water, psychedelic at times, and carrying this air similar to mid-career Pink Floyd or early The Mars Volta with howling guitars underneath and a momentous tone that really challenges everything up to this point. Funnily enough, it doesn’t even feel like the band ever abandon their former selves, they just simply crack open the darkly carapace and make some much appreciated renovations and, frankly, upgrades whereas a lot of bands are fine enough just giving us the ‘landlord special’ of painting over the flaws or shortcomings, then raising your rent for the effort. I think I like every other song on An Object In Motion more than “Yield To Force”, yet I still do love it – that should go to show you what I think of this project overall.

I’m really, really impressed with what Drab Majesty pulled off here, and it makes me quite excited to see where they go now. Years since their last LP, which I also reviewed and loved, this was worth the wait. It feels effortless and strenuous all at once – letting go of established conventions to a freer journey, but still steering the ship to a new, prosperous place as they have. I’ve been going through a lot lately and one of my only recourses, by choice, has been music as sonically rough as the times I’m going through. It’s been great to slow down and bask in the gentleness that An Object In Motion has provided. If you weren’t into the band before, it’s well worth another try as they venture into new territory.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

Leave a Reply