Party scene with cake and champagne bottle sitting on a table and a banner labeled "Drusky" behind it.

Local Review: Drusky – Cake & Absinthe

Local Music Reviews

Cake & Absinthe
Soberman Records

Street: 04.05
Drusky = Career Woman + Frankie Cosmos

With the release of their 2022 EP In Transit, Drusky quickly became one of my favorite local acts and I was highly anticipating their next release. While In Transit was playfully pushing indie-alternative sounds mulling on relationships, Cake & Absinthe tows the line between harsh and bittersweet evocations of childhood birthday parties, begrudgingly growing older, sentimentality and religious desensitization. 

The first few seconds of the starting track “Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Stronger” had me blurry-eyed and feeling fully unprepared for the succeeding range of emotion the rest of the album would bring. The song opens with Mia Hicken (lyrics, vocals, guitar) playing a recording of her great grandparents singing her “Happy Birthday” before easing into a clean guitar riff and dropping off suddenly with Hicken’s vocals musing about being a “product of her adolescence” and feeling “25 since 17.” I actually found this song difficult to listen to a second time because of how much it affected me, but it became one of my favorites for that reason. 

The following tracks retained the same emotional intensity with songs like “Dead Dog” commenting on “crying in movies where the dog dies.” Beyond being incredibly relatable, the track’s production was smooth and impressive—the bright and steady guitar accompaniment matching the heavy drum beats and quick-paced vocals made for the perfect, classically alternative melody. 

The album’s midway point, “Big Halftime Show,” is a five-minute long pleading track with speeding vocals. The flow matches the lyrical themes of rushing to feel emotional highs after trading feelings of apathy toward religion for the desperation to belong and find meaning in other facets of life. Around the three-minute mark, the track slows and bellows “Is this just a dream? / Why do I lie awake and scream? / It’s all for me, it’s all for me,” emphasizing the frantic call to slow down time as Hicken sings “I managed that all on my own. / But look at me, I guess I’m grown up.”

The tracks “Tolerance,” “Wasted” and “Religiousticis” continue to carry along the album’s overarching theme of the devastation and confusion of aging and discovering that what you believed when you were younger doesn’t have the same hold on you as it once did. “Tolerance” sings, “I can’t even feel it anymore,” while “Religisticious” seemingly speaks both on the overlapping heartache that comes from questioning a romantic relationship as it does a religious or familial one: “it’s not fair for me to stay when I’m aware that I’m not ever going to change. / Is this religious or superstitious?”

Drusky’s growth and transformation that came from their two year gap between In Transit and Cake & Absinthe is clearly evident when listening to the two back-to-back. While I’ll always hold affection for the band’s 2022 release, it’s hard to ignore the magnitude and presence of Cake & Absinthe, and I can easily see it becoming a defining listen for me as a 25-year-old in 2024. Overall, this album made me want to rage scream and cry with the echoes of a soft, feminine righteousness that only Lucy Dacus has been able to evoke. If you too are dealing with the enormous frustration of inevitable love and loss that comes with aging, then please sit with this album and feel temporarily remedied. –Jamie Christensen

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