Review: Drenge – Drenge
Published on August 16th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
If we tread *really* carefully, we might just be able to turn in the only review of Drenge’s self-titled debut album that doesn’t mention Tom Watson.
Ah nuts, we did it already.
As noted by the band themselves, the association is a boon in terms of publicity but something of a shame insomuch as it detracts from their own efforts in, you know, getting as far as being at Glastonbury for Watson to see them in the first place.
Furthermore, Drenge is a blast of fresh air from start to finish, and such is the band’s “DIY approach” – no, we’re not above resorting to tired music journo clichés – that the credit lies pretty much entirely with the band themselves.
A guitar/drums/vocals duo comprising of Sheffield brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, Drenge bring together thrashy power chords, cocky riffs, wry humour and accommodating scraps of melody in a way that reminds Rocksucker of Mudhoney.
It’s a sludgy, crunchy kind of lo-fi that’s so much smarter than your average modern garage rock that it feels kind of wrong to refer to Drenge as a ‘hype’ or ‘buzz’ band. That would be to lump them in with the reams of bands for whom the right ‘look’ appears to take precedence over actually writing a memorable tune.
Perhaps the likes of these are referred to on opener “People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck” with “We have no redeeming features, just a desperate streak”? Probably not, for there doesn’t appear to be much mean-spiritedness to Drenge’s world view.
If anything, it’s likelier a misguided attempt at self-deprecation. Misguided insomuch as Drenge = ace.
The ensuing “Dogmeat” displays in spades – yes, spades – why this is so. “Cut off my tongue, turn it into dogmeat / Give it to the hobo, give him words to eat / Everybody thinks I’ve got new ideas” is wonderful, as is the stabby punctuation of the rhythm section behind it.
Drenge are assured enough to pull off a two-note guitar solo here, while the drums clatter so gosh darn thrillingly as to finally consign the prevailing ‘indie disco’ rhythm of our age to the total irrelevance its insipid greyness has long merited.
The declaration within “I Wanna Break You in Half” of “I’m gonna make you piss your pants” is joyously at odds with all the “I texted you last night but you didn’t text back” junior love songs that we have to wade through each week, as is the testimony to getting beaten up by coppers on the fiercely rumbling blues-metal of “Backwaters”.
“Caught By the Fuzz”, your spirit lives on!
That cascading dual harmony motif from “Bloodsports” may or may not have been knowingly pinched from The Beta Band’s “Outside”; frankly we don’t much care, especially since the more ostentatious instance of ‘borrowing’ – “I Don’t Want to Make Love to You” mimics the melody to a certain Etta James classic hi-jacked by Coca Cola – is so inspired.
Eight-minute penultimate track “Let’s Pretend” represents the first true change of pace: the kind of brooding death march that Pavement liked to mix things up with on occasion, it builds into a fiery, screeching tumult suggestive of much more to come from Drenge.
Just as indicative of artistic development to come is Longpigs-y closer “Fuckabout”, so deliciously melodic in its tired sort of way. Heck, after all that rocking, you’d be tired too.
“When I put the kettle on, you put heavy metal on” could quite conceivably be a tableau of the downtime that punctuated the making of Drenge. Or it could just be how they start the day. Any which way, it’s a moment of casual brilliance on a debut album brimming with the stuff.
Drenge deserve all the tea and heavy metal you can throw at them.
Drenge will be released on August 19th through Infectious Music UK.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!