Each new album from Drugealer comes together like a lost ‘70s soundtrack to a night that exists only in legends and murky memories. Collins has an uncanny ability to craft songs that feel like they’ve always existed but may have been buried in the backroom of your local AM station. They’re deep cuts gathering dust beneath an approved and pre-sorted roster of tracks smashed into the American consciousness, a collective Pavlovian pining for an America that never materialized, but that’s been sold so long the truth hardly matters any more. Drugdealer slaloms his songs between this haze of ennui, capturing the familiar high that crackles to life between the radio static. It’s an idealized vision of the past to be sure, but in some ways letting oneself recline into the imaginary embrace of Collins’ pastiche is freeing — all the aesthetic, none of the hubris of a generation who were sure they’d peaked American culture.
Aesthetics aside, it’s Collins and his collaborators’ wrecking crew credentials that make the records work. When Collins steps to the mic he’s embodying the ideal of road-weary troubadour, cigarette in mouth, smoke curling around a dusted drawl that’s now vacillating between Van Morrison and Nick Lowe. This time around he draws vocal drop-ins from Tim Presley of White Fence, Kate Bollinger, Bambina, Sedona, and Sean Nicholas Savage, a tendency that sometimes lends an unevenness to his works, but here latches onto the lost soundtrack aesthetic with a smoothness that elevates the record. The vocalists aren’t the only ringers in the bunch, and special acknowledgments must be made to the keyboard work of John Carroll Kirby, whose own albums have captured much of the same time-capsule magic of Drugdealer. Josh Da Costa (CMON) and Daryl Johns (Mac DeMarco, The Lemon Twigs) flesh out the silken soul of the album making Hiding In Plan Sight one of his most consistently crushing albums yet.
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