Drugdealer : Hiding in Plain Sight

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Last year, I discovered an immense source of joy and relaxation through Sirius XM’s Yacht Rock station. When I visited my parents and had access to a car, I would drive around, abandoning my own current Spotify playlists and favorite new releases and instead succumbed to the light and breezy hits of The Eagles, Steely Dan, and Christopher Cross. I couldn’t deny the lush, exaggerated emphasis on easy living and didn’t want to turn back to modern music, which felt too connected to the harsh state of the world. But on Drugdealer’s third album, Hiding in Plain Sight, frontman Michael Collins taps into his own version of yacht rock, blending his soulful approach to groovy rock with R&B influences, resulting in a tasteful and mellowed album to relax into. 

Hiding in Plain Sight finds its tone in hazy guitar riffs and velvety keyboard interludes, Collins putting more of his soul into this album than its predecessor, Raw Honey. Something clicked into place on this creative process, as Collins delivers a stronger vocal performance here, with “New Fascination” introducing a confident and carefree sound from Collins as the background vocals only boost his more prominent presentation. While 2016’s The End of Comedy incorporated the glimmering vocals of Weyes Blood, it’s a welcomed contrast to hear Collins put more of his own voice forward. 

Hiding in Plain Sight is a welcome change in an overwhelming musical landscape, an escape and a therapeutic device all at once. “Someone to Love” is a warm, vibrant ballad, sounding like an outtake from Hall & Oates’ self-titled album. “Pictures of You” features singer Kate Bollinger, her dreamy vocals blending with twangy guitars and sparkling keyboard lines. On album opener “Madison,” Collins brings his smooth vocals to meet Connor Gallaher’s dreamy pedal steel for a combination that’s full of love and a sheer appreciation for leaning into your daydreams. 

So much of Hiding in Plain Sight feels like Collins and the band gave themselves permission to lean into romanticism. Beyond feelings of love, there’s an excitement that shines through in tracks like “Hard Dreaming Man,” for simply wanting more from life and seeking it out. The album is a beautiful display of tuning into the positive, and letting our imaginations carry us to push toward basking in the sun a little bit longer. 

Label: Mexican Summer

Year: 2022

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