After their 2013, self-titled debut album was more accomplished than some bands fifth record, Drenge set the bar high not just for fellow musicians but for themselves. The band’s second LP Undertow released earlier this week is a strong, power-house of an album. It’s matured, developed, but still pissed off, although no longer revelling in brattishness. A solid set of tracks that proves that despite not taking themselves too seriously, the Loveless brothers are in it for the long haul.
Opening with ‘Introduction’ which quite literally runs into ‘Running Wild’, a track known to fans from live performances, with fuzzy and reverberating guitar riffs. At the core of the track sits a dirty and infectious riff that leaves the track lingering in your mind. Vocalist Eoin spits out the lyrics with such vigour that the track sets the tone for the remainder of the album. The next three tracks to follow all have been delivered as singles in the lead up to the release. ‘Never Awake’ is perhaps the biggest, stand-out track to date. Its full of a grisly mood, as Eoin growls “how about twisting the knife after you stick it in?” incorporating those infamous grotesque images that the band has previously painted. It’s a track that marks a fuller and thicker sound from the band that truly drags you in, with unearthly and brutal drum beats.
‘We Can Do What We Want’ follows. A single that is arguably the closest Drenge have come to indie-rock. Fast pace vocals, building drumming and guitar plucks make a rhythm that could only make way for those inevitable moshes at their impeccable live shows. The obvious highlight of the album is ‘Favourite Son’, their best track so far. It etches that raw and ragged feel found on LP1. With lyrics like “I wanna be hugged, I wanna be kissed/I don’t wanna be fucked, I just wanna be his”, “I wanna be loved by your favourite son” and a shouty chorus, the Loveless brothers clearly haven’t lost their adolescent snarl and punkish nature. It’s a track made to be played on loop at full volume.
Also known from shows over the past year, ‘The Snake’ holds the same menacing and eerie tone of tracks from their debut, whilst ‘The Woods’, the softest track from the album sees the duo experiment with new sounds, but stick close to home with references to their surroundings. With a move to Sheffield, the record is full of independence, but with the mention of landmarks seen on the former and ‘Have You Forgotten My Name?’, it’s clear that Drenge aren’t planning on losing sight of their beginnings any time soon. ‘Side By Side’ opens similarly to ‘Favourite Son’, whilst penultimate track ‘Standing In The Cold’ croons of unrequited love over a fire-cracker of a climbing riff and rattling drums. It’s grim and grey in tone, but proves why regardless of the past or the future, this record is a big marker for the band.
With the addition of bassist and old pal Rob Graham (Wet Nuns), the band are that bit more ferocious in attitude and bulked up in volume. They haven’t lost their sense of rebellion or un-convention, instead have preceded to control but expand it into an even more improved and executed sound.
With the challenge of producing a record as impressive as their first, it’s safe to say that Drenge have not just equalled their debut, but thrown themselves into the growth of musicians. Full of confidence, the record unveils the makings of a soon to be iconic rock-duo.