Review: Drop Nineteens – Delaware

Nowadays, US groups seems to be celebrating shoegaze more than ever. Back in its early incarnations in the early 1990’s though, the genre was a largely British concern so it was something of a surprise when Boston group Drop Nineteens emerged and they duly spent time gigging with similarly-styled Brits Chapterhouse as well being a support act for PJ Harvey. So with the current trend for reappraising what initially seemed to be a passing fad, what better time to reissue their first album, 1992’s ‘Delaware’?

Looking back ‘Delaware’ is a surprisingly varied record but not all of it is gold. ‘Ease It Halen’ piles on effect after effect but it’s lack of melody and structure makes it a hard slog to listen to and ‘Reberrymemberer’ is a rather ugly mess. Thankfully these misfires were the exception rather than the rule. The brief but sweet ‘Baby Wonder’s Gone’ and ‘My Aquarium’ prove the group’s acoustic songwriting credentials. Allied to this were a taste for bizarre cover versions; in this case Madonna’s ‘Angel’ and Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy’ where the pop staples are transformed into distorted, heads-down rock anthems.

Of the more “traditional” shoegaze songs, ‘Winona’ and ‘Delaware’ matched their gifts for youthful American vocals, wired guitars and that distinct air of student bedsit angst in to something which has lasted remarkably well. Meanwhile, ‘Movie’ impresses with its languid, lazy charm. Yet it’s left to the majestic nine-minute instrumental ‘Kick The Tragedy’ to steal the show; the one time where they truly nailed the “beauty from noise” trick from My Bloody Valentine.

‘Delaware’ makes a strong case for Drop Nineteens being more than mere hangers-on to a flagging British scene. Much of their album has aged well and the American influences they put into their records (namely The Pixies and Sonic Youth) ensure they merit a fascinating if short-lived point in dreampop history.

Web Sites:
Drop Nineteens MySpace
Cherry Red Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
The Sleepover Disaster, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Sonic Youth

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