The current lineup of LA project DRINKS could well be described as a who’s who of Far Out favourites in its current guise, with some of the most prolific oddballs around coming together to create a supergroup full of intrigue and brimming with versatility.

It was born out of a desire by White Fence collaborators Tim Presley and Cate le Bon to come up with something fresh where the pair split lead vocal duties down the middle. The result is a wide-spanning collage of sounds that had us busting a gut to be in attendance at Manchester’s Deaf Institute.

However, this time around, armed with a wealth of new material, you can also throw in Le Bon’s Welsh compatriot, Sweet Baboo, who is on hand to provide a smattering of bass lines that burrow far into the brain, and some occasionally eerie electronics.

With such a broad spectrum of influences and styles, we enter the gig – billed as ‘An Evening with DRINKS’ – very much in the dark, but a lack of familiarity with much of the night’s material does nothing to quell our enthusiasm.

Minimalism very much runs through the band’s output, with subtle guitar riffs and the Syd Barrett-esque vocal style of Presley defining much of the set – as is undeniably the case on previous single, ‘Laying Down Rock’.

The between song chat is short and debatably drawl – especially on Presley’s part – but that matters not a jot on a sonic journey that touches down in areas as far-reaching as psych-rock, pop, punk and krautrock – as well as slower, more dexterous, even folk-laden moments backed up by a violinist and drummer who complete the five-piece.

Le Bon thanks the crowd for making the effort on a school night, and they further prove they’ve got no qualms about the next morning’s daily grind by responding rapturously at the end of the main set. Floor-stamping and universal chants of more then only mean one thing as – despite the relatively short lifespan of DRINKS – they return for an (albeit unfamiliar again) encore.

The healthy dose of new stuff tonight suggests album number two must be in the offing, and judging by the preview we’ve revelled in at Deaf Institute, you’re in for one hell of a treat.

Patrick Davies

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