The Van Warmer—the second release from the three Daves (Bjorkback, Cantwell, and Heller) of Drug Yacht following a fourteen-year hiatus—begins with a feint.
"Switchblade Kid" kicks off with a dissonant, vibratoed seven-second head fake that quickly collapses and dissolves. Then the real riff kicks in: a sassy, sauntering sleaze-rock riff straight from the Sunset Strip. The Daves deliver the tune with their tongues so firmly in their cheeks that they're practically bursting through the buccal cavity. When Bjorkback delivers the song's verses, it almost sounds as though he's stifling a laugh. When he howls the chorus —"You keep you motor clean!/You got your hooks in me!"—his smirk is practically audible.
But a band named Drug Yacht should be loads of fun. Nominally, Drug Yacht is a math rock band, albeit one of a particular burl and brawn, a mix of anxious energy and heft. Where many math rock bands are too often self-serious, Drug Yacht adds more than a bit of humor in with its melodic, musicular mix. There's a world-class reference to The Simpsons in "Rag-on-a-Stick Rag," and there's the double, no, triple entendre in "Her Dick Moves."
The Van Warmer is raw, in-your-face, full-tilt boogie, and its best moments balance riffs and ribaldry. Take "Bizzy Ballz," where Bjorkback and Heller shout nonsequiturs over breaks between snaking riffs before the song whiplashes into a breakneck sprint. Or "The Chest of a Christian Woman," which pinballs between AmRep paroxysms and Primus jocularity.
Even at thirty-seven minutes and change, The Van Warmer is so flush with ideas that it seems to race by on first listen. But so many riffs are stuffed within its run time that it will likely take a dozen listens to fully unpack it. That The Van Warmer is as fun as it is, for being so dense, is a testament to Drug Yacht's playfulness. It's entirely unwilling to take itself too seriously, and it's best when leaning hard into that "three friends fucking around in a shed" mentality.