Drug Rug’s Paint the Fence Invisible

Drug Rug
Paint the Fence Invisible
Black & Greene Records
Release Date: July 28th

Allegedly, Drug Rug is comprised of a real-life romantic couple, Thomas Allen and Sarah Cronin. This fact does little to foster an intimate sensibility in most of the songs on Drug Rug’s second release, Paint the Fence Invisible. As you might have figured by the name, Drug Rug is a neo-psychedelic jangle dream pop outfit from Boston. In a year of weirdo pop album masterworks by the Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective, Drug Rug will be hard pressed to catch a whole frenzy of attention, but they are efficient songwriters if not producers of something entirely new.

While most of the album is inessential but thoroughly listenable, rhythmic and tuneful, there are, to this reviewer’s tender ears, 2 entirely wonderful tracks on Paint the Fence Invisible; the titular track which also functions as the closer, and “Coffee in the Morning.” It is in these two very different songs that Drug Rug manages to evoke coupledom and to say something intensely truthful about relationships. “Coffee in the Morning” so quickly calls to mind a goofy great very old Boswell Sisters song (quick! to the ITunes!) “Coffee in the Morning and Kisses at Night” and the best song on Dylan’s Desire, “One More Cup of Coffee.” The song thumps and jangles along with a sense of wonder (largely produced by a very wisely utilized and very Jon Brion-esque xylophone), “I see the old library but I’ve never been inside.” It’s a song about living with some one, a song about discovery in the habitual— what seems to be the music-making couple’s most aggressive pursuit…you sleep with, eat with, come with, and create with the same person every day. No better a ritual than morning coffee to canonize the habits formed in life together.

That brings us to the closing track, “Paint the Fence Invisible,” a spare acoustic ballad sung by Cronin in a Joanna Newsom sounding squeak-lullaby voice. “Paint the fence invisible/you can with your mind/ find the world indestructible/show the world what you find” are the only words in the song, sung twice. It’s a stunning lyric, playing with a domestic command, “paint the fence” and at the same time speaking a beautiful philosophical request to see through the moody dividers in relationships.

It would be hard to speculate on how Drug Rug will fare in the future. It might be nice to have them, 2 albums down the line, writing angst filled songs to each other, ala Richard and Linda Thompson’s under-appreciated divorce record, Shoot Out the Lights. It would also help if they focused on writing nourishing songs like the 2 aforementioned humdingers and dropped the marginally haggard songs like “Hannah Please” and “Noah Rules.”