Drenge – ‘Strange Creatures’ | Album Review

Drenge return with Gut-Punching New Album ‘Strange Creatures’

Following a four year-long wait with eager fans itching for a new Drenge fix after second album ‘Undertow’ (2015), the highly anticipated third album, produced by Sheffield’s Ross Orton, sees a mix up; as Drenge expand to become a four-piece and produce what is their most experimental work to date.

The Album

The album kicks off (quite literally) with a bang in the form of ‘Bonfire Of The City Boys’. A firework of a track, it’s simple. Heavy bass introduction appears reminiscent of fellow Sheffield bands, Arctic Monkeys and Nervous Pills. Shouty lyrics, injecting the song with passion, angst and anger. Eoin’s poetic rolling narrative expels some kind of sweet aggression, packing a powerful punch. Vividly setting the scene for the intriguing concept that is about to unfold.

The bubbly, sliding guitars of ‘This Dance’, and the titular track from the band’s latest EP ‘Autonomy’ (October 2018) make an appearance. This provides a stark contrast between the moody ballads evident elsewhere. The robotic sci-fi and retro Human League vibe results these considerably more positive tracks standing out in the midst of the gloom that Drenge have created.

Experimenting and Evolving

Ironically upbeat vibes are also present on the album, most obviously exemplified in the catchy ‘Never See the Signs’. Based on electronic beats contrasted with abstract lyrics ‘You’re the life I left stranded and struggling in the ditch’; the darkness of Drenge miraculously intertwining with a zingy, more polished sound. ‘Teenage Love’ continues the theme of electronic, almost retro gaming music, seemingly inspired by Depeche Mode. Referring back to themes from Drenge’s debut, telling a tale of teenage angst and romance with a grungy twist.

However, the band’s trademark air of anguish and darkness is best manifested in the sludgy riffs of ‘No Flesh Road’; the dirty introductory rhymes ‘taillights glow, in the midnight snow’ are melancholic yet mysterious. While a fuzzy wall of noise, reminiscent of October Drift, propels this intriguing effect further during ‘Avalanches’. ‘It was like Halloween’ perfectly sums up the creepiness of ‘Prom Night’ which takes an extremely dark turn. Narrating how a school prom descends into chaos, whilst the unexpected introduction of a saxophone weirdly works. A successful experiment that definitely pays off.

Title track, ‘Strange Creatures’ is the epitome of a nocturnal, melancholic ballad. With its quiet, spooky bass introduction complimented by electric guitars and lyrics of; can we put it to bed, or can we knock it on the hea hea hea hea head’; an uncomfortable sound, reminiscent of a distorted Seth Rogan laugh. The track’s eerie backing vocals in particular give it an atmospheric feel, deeming it fit for a film soundtrack.

The same can also be said for the final Western-style track ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’, which in the words of Drenge themselves, is inspired by zombie Elvis, George Michael and late 80s house music. Nonetheless, it also has an air of Nick Cave about it, and haunting vocals mean that it would not feel out of place on a Red Dead Redemption soundtrack, perfectly wrapping up the album which shows far the Loveless brothers have come since their debut in 2013.

Overall

Drenge are an example of a band who is ever evolving as a dynamic force in the industry, while also staying true to the music they wish to create. ‘Strange Creatures’ in particular, grounds itself as a dichotomy between the concepts of dark moodiness and more ironic, upbeat tracks. Such a division epitomises the album as a strange embodiment of work, mirroring both the title and the force of the band themselves.

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