Album Review: DRMCTHR—’Hold Your Love’
Posted: by The Editor
Fans of DRMCTHR have been patiently waiting for a collection of new music , and Hold Your Love is the much anticipated debut full-length, released through Darkshore Music Group. It’s been four years since the 2013 EP Wonderlust (self-released under the moniker Dreamcatcher), and although the period between releases has been filled with frequent lineup changes and personal hardships for the band, the end result is well worth the time spent.
DRMCTHR now consists of Chelsea Tyler, Bryan Czap, Craig Perkins, and Billy Wahler, and hails from Baltimore, M.D., a city whose scene is known for producing pop-punk powerhouses like Good Charlotte and All Time Low. Despite their roots (Czap was a founding member of The Dangerous Summer, Tyler and Perkins were in pop-rock act The Aviator Set, and Wahler played in the metalcore group Minds Like Mirrors), Hold Your Love’s more closely aligns with contemporaries Now, Now or Wildhoney, evoking a turbulent atmosphere of melancholy, though remaining ever hopeful.
The album opens with the steadfast “In My Head,” which references several predominant themes of the album. In an interview with VENTS Magazine, Tyler mentions, “A lot of this record is about heartbreak, loss, and yearning. It’s about everything we went through to create this record,” and these concepts are readily apparent throughout the lyrics.
More often than not, the subject of yearning is expressed as a personal emotion, though it can easily be cast as a projection of the band’s anticipation for the album’s completion. “In My Head”’s verses carry an up-tempo beat with subtle, overdriven guitar melodies washed in milky reverb that build to a brooding pre-chorus where Tyler questions the effort they’ve invested, “Is it worth it to be this haunted/Do I really want it,” before launching into an anthemic chorus that’s difficult to avoid singing along to. In the lead single, “Apartment,” the lyrics, “It never seems like we’re getting anywhere/I think I’m imagining things like you and me,” echo the frustration of writing, recording, and frequently revising tracks behind the more approachable metaphor of a stagnant relationship.
Elsewhere, tracks like “Get Lost” and “Stay Away” highlight the band’s aesthetic growth. The use of bass-forward mixing allows Perkins to command the rhythm section and give both guitarists room to stand out with eerie riffs that harken back to the shoegaze tones of bands like Nothing. Notably, both these tracks include keyboard or synthesizer parts, a welcome contribution that adds density and additional layers to an already complex palette.
The second half of the album contains some of the band’s strongest material to date, including standout songs “Jenna” and “Blacked Out;” the latter of which was recently released with a powerful, semi-autobiographical music video where Tyler confronts personal fears related to self-destructive tendencies. While speaking to Huffington Post about the video, Tyler said that, “Blacked Out was written at a tough time in my life… from the perspective of the person I wanted to be, talking to the person I was at the time.”
Despite the turbulence portrayed, the overwhelming message “Blacked Out” sends is of the opportunity for growth, encouraging audiences to acknowledge faults and avoid the all-too-easy tendency to wallow in grief—suggesting instead to “please just let the light in”.
The closing track, “Believe,” reiterates this notion of positivity in the face of adversity. It opens with a circular bass line, slowly adding layers throughout the verse and building to an overwhelmingly catchy chorus. During a burgeoning bridge section, Tyler speaks for the band as a whole, asking that listeners, “Believe in me, the art, the words, the things I want to be/Believe in me.” A final, vast outro chorus covers the soundscape with a storm of drums and vocal harmonies before the reverb, and album, fall like a tide.
Hold Your Love is the product of a painstaking dedication to self-actualization. DRMCTHR have tread the border between ethereal dream-pop and grimy alt-rock, and the result is a collection of intensely contemplative tracks that ebb and flow, all the while driving forward towards an uncanny optimism. With a debut as resounding as this, it’s hard not to believe that DRMCTHR have an impressive future ahead of them.
Dylan Sprayberry | @dylansprayberry