Hey! Manchester presents Steven Adams & the French Drops
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We’re delighted to be welcoming Steven Adams and his band The French Drops back to The Castle Hotel!
Steven Adams, formerly of The Broken Family Band, has a new album out. Drops (Fika Recordings) is a banger, and according to Mojo, ‘urban Britain has generated its very own equivalent of Stephen Malkmus’.
Since calling time on TBFB at the height of their success, he’s worked under various guises as a solo artist – Singing Adams, The Singing Adams, Steven James Adams, Steven Adams & The French Drops – and released a number of albums ranging from DIY indie rock, intimate folk, experiments in Krautrock and politically-charged widescreen pop.
‘Every record I’ve made has been in a hurry of some sort,’ says Adams of his new album, ‘and with this one I wanted to take my time.’
Drops is the first album to be credited to him as a solo artist since 2016’s Old Magick, his first new music since 2020, and the first to be home-recorded: ‘I finally got my head around home recording in 2020, while things were a bit quiet. Suddenly I didn’t have to worry about wasting other people’s time.’
Armed with a batch of new songs he upped sticks to the Welsh countryside along with drummer Daniel Fordham and bassist David Stewart – both formerly of psych oddballs The Drink – before transferring to Big Jelly, a converted chapel on the south coast, with producer Simon Trought (Comet Gain, Johnny Flynn, The Wave Pictures) to lay down the basic tracks for Drops.
Eschewing a band set up (‘never everyone at the same time – I wanted to spend time thinking about how the parts could fit together’), recording sessions in East London followed – with Laurie Earle (Absentee) on guitar, Michael Wood (Hayman Kupa Band, Michaelmas) on keyboards.
Adams then took the recordings to the French countryside, to work alone. ‘After a while I started to think of the songs as paintings, trying something one morning, painting over it in the afternoon and attempting something completely different. It was never about perfecting or achieving technical excellence, but more about enjoying the whole process.’
Each time Tom at Fika checked in to see how the album was progressing Adams would reply: ‘It’s taking ages but it’ll sound like it was recorded in an afternoon.’
The upshot is a dynamic and spirited off-kilter collection of songs. Drops is a sonically compelling piece of work: from the bleak-to-exultant opener Out to Sea and the motorik Living in the Local Void to the funereal Fascists (where Adams imagines the ‘little skip in our steps’ that we’ll have upon outliving some baddies).
It also has moments of tenderness, as with the avalanche of empathy on closing track Cheap Wine Sad Face, and I Tried to Keep it Light’s ‘worse things could happen… I don’t know how, but give me time’.
Drops juxtaposes the perfectly melodic with the vaguely surreal: ‘If the album has a theme it’s probably bewilderment or trying to make sense of things. And did I mention I was preoccupied by time?’
‘A national musical treasure’ – the Guardian
‘Astonishing tenderness in its simplicity … brilliant lyrics’ – Q Magazine