It feels like a lifetime ago that October Drift released their debut album Forever Whatever. Realistically it was only 10 short months ago, and though a lot has happened in that time, it’s a record I’ve found myself going back to countless times, for countless reasons.
It was a surprise then, when the band announced an EP so soon off the back of it. Comprised of two reworkings as well as two brand new tracks, both written in lockdown, Naked offers up a quieter and more introspective side to the band that’s only flirted with on their debut, while still retaining as much, if not more of the emotional gut-punches that made the record so special.
Though these EP tracks might well lack the weight of much of the album, there’s a sense of space created in stripping them back; the orchestral additions elevating both “Naked” and “Cinnamon Girl” above the realms of their original iterations completely. It’s the latter of the two which really benefits from a reworking. Layered vocals and sombre strings both providing the track with an extra layer of gravitas. And though the cloying claustrophobia of the original recording has been replaced, it loses none of the original impact and instead takes on a whole new feeling – something as grandiose as it is devastating.
Of course, it’s the newer tracks here that will draw the most interest. Most recent single “Like The Snow We Fall” is a personal highlight. Impressive in its scope despite the initial acoustic nature, it’s a track that builds steadily towards an anthemic conclusion to what’s arguably the strongest song the band have released.
“Still”, however, is where things get really interesting. Like nothing else in October Drift’s catalogue, a finger picked guitar is occasionally joined by vocal harmonies and the aforementioned strings (the only tie to the rest record), but otherwise is accompanied just by vocalist Kiran Roy’s voice, in turn sounding its most melodic. Sounding more like a record by The Shins than the October Drift we’ve come love, it’s a welcome, if not surprising change, providing some brief respite amongst what’s an otherwise an intense 15 minutes.
In a year that has left the majority of us floundering, October Drift have managed to release their debut album, and a follow-up EP that ultimately feels more nuanced, and more mature than their debut. With talk of album number two already in the pipeline, it really does seem as if October Drift can do no wrong.