Photo Credit: Nazrin Massaro
There’s one instrument that dominates the new album by Georgia Flipo (AKA G Flip) and you don’t get points for getting which one it is – it’s there in the album title, and the album art and is made obvious within the album’s first few songs. This is a return to drum-centered music – the instrument that G Flip learned first but hasn’t always been the center of G’s releases under the Future Classic label. It’s a decision that mostly translates well and lends itself to a renewed sense of confidence in Flipo’s songwriting.
Drummer is bookended by the album’s two best tracks. The opener “7 Days” splits the difference between pop-punk and country-pop to create a compelling sound that distinguishes Flipo from their peers. Like many of the songs here, writing and production credits are split between Flipo and a crew of all-star collaborators (co-writers Sarah Aarons and ‘Stint’ have previously worked with Demi Lovato, Zara Larsson, and Zedd), but it doesn’t quite sound like anything else they’ve worked on. Across the song’s three minutes, revelations emerge (“I realize that I can’t just wipe you from my twenty-somethings”) as does Flipo’s gift for penning evocative couplets (“When the sun gives way // I’ll pay for what this empty cup brings”).
The following “The Worst Person Alive” follows a structure that becomes commonplace across the remainder of Drummer – a gradual build-up culminates in power-pop catharsis led by frenetic drumming. Though it’s a largely satisfying formula, it never quite scales the height of power-pop’s current forefigures Alvvays and becomes predictable by the album’s final third. However, when it works, it really works – as evident on “Good Enough,” where a tale of reckless post-breakup abandon filled with “having drunk sex and staying up late” transitions into a bombastic second half where Flipo’s voice reaches a scream.
There are a few admirable departures across Drummer’s relatively short runtime. Unfortunately, they don’t always work out well. “Baked” sees Flipo opt for speak-singing sprechgesang delivery. But, if the aim was to replicate the wit and above-it-all attitude of Kesha or Wet Leg, the end result is somewhat stiff and more closely resembling Meghan Trainor’s “No.” Elsewhere, on “Kevin” Flipo departs from the album’s standard subject matter (love and its aftermath) to turn her anger outwards – specifically, against a homophobic online troll. But it lacks the precision and wit of Lily Allen’s song about the same subject matter, “URL Badman.” And, on an album that is otherwise entirely introspective and lovestruck, the song sticks out like a sore thumb.
By this point on the album, it can feel as though Flipo is somewhat stuck in a rut. Songs like “Be Your Man” and “Love Hurts” can feel like X Factor bait, with their overproduced sound and clichéd lyrics like “Love hurts // And that’s how I know // I love you.” It’s unfortunate because these songs hint at darker, more interesting subject matter that goes largely unexplored (for example, when Flipo sings of using alcohol and Adderall to cope).
Thankfully, Drummer ends on a high note. Another country-inspired number, it sees Flipo reflect on a relationship that distracted G from various milestones – the last days of Flipo’s grandfather’s life and a friend’s engagement among them. “Done with all your bullshit,” G declares over twangy pedal steel guitar and acoustic strumming. A fitting drum solo sees the song out before G signs off, “I bet the neighbors are pissed now.” It’s a fitting moment of triumph and self-assurance that helps stave off lingering concerns of a sophomore slump.