Clash (magazine) - "Both opener 'Troublemaker' and lead single 'Cruel Ways' offer the bite and immediacy of their debut while being removed and matured enough to offer plenty of hope for what's to follow."
Audio Mixer: Claudius Mittendorfer.
The sophomore studio long-player from the N.Y.C.-based indie rockers, On Desire, unlike the band's peppy, Strokes-ian debut, dims the lights and offers up a brooding profile shot of love gone astray. Statuesque frontman Matt Hitt hasn't lost his affinity for penning Morrissey-inspired tales of cynicism and woe, but there is an extra weight to On Desire that suggests a recent bout with heartbreak may have left some permanent damage. Feisty opener "Troublemaker" presents one of the LP's myriad femme fatales, and the propulsive backbeat and reverb-laden washes of distorted guitar add admirable menace and bite. This predilection toward the dark side of the indie pop spectrum was hinted at on the Drowners' eponymous debut, but it downright permeates On Desire, more or less dropping the sardonic/affable Vaccines template in favor of a sonic patina that hews a little closer to the late-night emissions of Last Shadow Puppets and Echo & the Bunnymen. In fact, the latter outfit casts a huge shadow on tracks like "Human Remains" and "Trust the Tension," with Hitt and guitarist Jack Ridley ditching the Moz and Johnny Marr posturing for the leather-clad black magic of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant. Elsewhere, the appropriately astral "Dreams Don't Count" pairs sad-sack heartbreak with billowy, David Lynch-ian retro-pop, and the punchy "Another Go" should please listeners for whom the late-'90s garage rock revival never closed its doors. With On Desire, the Drowners sound more confident and more in tune with each other as a band, but they still remain captives of their influences. They're evolving, but at a pace that may never yield any new fruit. ~ James Christopher Monger