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Review: Drop The Sun - Wanderlust

Photo Cred: Jon Calderas

When things start off with trumpets and Central American flair, you know that an album titled Wanderlust is aptly named. A loose narrative combined with a band in search of who, and what, they are, Drop The Sun works their way through a catalog of vibes, sounds, and genres to create an interesting and often ambitious record.

“We decided to call the album Wanderlust because it's sort of a snapshot of us wandering around and experimenting musically in search of our sound. It's a very eclectic group of songs, but as varied as they are I think they all sound like [us].” This from Sean Patrick Roark, founder, vocalist, and guitarist of Cincinnati’s Drop The Sun.

“I started Drop The Sun as a synth-pop side project back in 2014. It was originally just me and my iPad. I was writing the songs; all the synth parts, guitar parts, bass parts, programming the drums and using some drum loops, and singing,” he explains. “After playing a few open mics I added my good friend Tommy Dudley on guitar. We played a few shows with the iPad providing all the backing tracks, Tommy playing guitar, and me singing. We even opened up for Saving Able as the original duo. We then added Will Lucas on drums, Erik Drake on bass, and Dane Mitchell (aka DJ Marvel) on keyboards and played a ton of shows as this incarnation.”

We find the band in decidedly different territory with this year’s Wanderlust. Moving away from anything resembling synth pop, Drop The Sun has instead gone the way of Modern Bands Looking Back with Fondness, creating an album drenched in nostalgia and a sort of post-modern musical musing. From production to arrangement, even lyrical content, this feels like a 2022 homage to the late 60’s, rife with storytelling and layered vocals - and, my favorite - plenty of trumpet.

It took them a while to get to this point, though.

Roark says, “We tried a bunch of keyboardists, drummers and even had a violinist for a while until we finally settled into our current line-up: Erik Drake on bass, Paul Swabek on drums, Erik Owens on trumpet/trombone, Chase Baechle on guitar, the beautiful and talented Melissa Rose on vocals, and myself on guitar and vocals.”

“The other reason we went with the title Wanderlust is because it really is kind of a loose concept album about a personal journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening,” he explains. The album itself is a pastiche of orchestral-esque arrangements, soaring vocals, and quietly rocking guitar work. Mid-album track “Shadows” gives Melissa Rose some to shine, leading into a quirky follow-up, “Pirate Song.” As a whole, the album plays like a way, way less dark take on what Murder By Death does, and at times gives me some joyful flashbacks to bands like The Anniversary and their inspired final album, Your Majesty, and some of the more straightforward things The Dear Hunter has done since they started putting out music.

Things get a little darker and heavier as the album progresses - with the final third of the album settling into decidedly more Rock and Roll territory. It’s big but not bombastic, with soaring vocals, fuzzier guitars, and a bit more energy. It’s a fun juxtaposition - the kinetic ending to the album was genuinely surprising.

To celebrate the album’s release, Drop The Sun along with friends Wonky Tonk and Go Go Buffalo will be playing a free show tonight at Northside Tavern. Get there at 7 and enjoy some drinks - music kicks off at 9. Seems like a great way to enjoy the long weekend, don’t you think?