ALBUM REVIEW: Drenge – ‘Undertow’

After their eponymous debut exploded onto the music scene back in 2013, it doesn’t seem Garage Punk band Drenge have had a moment to breathe. When they’re not gracing the stages of festivals such as Reading & Leeds or Glastonbury, they’re off touring the U.S. or playing the Late Show with David Letterman. After building an extensive fan base both in the U.K. and across the Atlantic, the duo have a hefty number of people eagerly awaiting the release of their second album ‘Undertow’.

The album begins with a dark and atmospheric introduction that slowly leads us into the first track Running Wild. Immediately it’s clear that Drenge have gone for a more produced approach to their sound, as the usual distorted mess of guitars seem less chaotic this time round. While the general performance overall seems to be tighter than it was on the last album, Drenge manage to keep some of their trademark grit that made their debut so appealing. With this said, frontman Eoin Loveless still seems to be dipping his toe in the pool of generic rock, hesitant as to whether he should jump in or instead keep his DIY roots upheld.

The new produced sound continues into second track Never Awake, as drummer Rory Loveless (Brother to Eoin) lays down one of many solid beats present on the album for Eoin to put his now effect-heavy guitars over. However, it’s when the anarchic lead single We Can Do What We Want comes into play that the album really begins to take shape. Don’t let the upbeat first few bars deceive you, the song is full to the brim with the band’s trademark chugging, heavy guitars and disjunct punk rock riffing. Sounding like the bastard lovechild of The Ramones and Bleach-era Nirvana, the song climaxes as Eoin repeatedly screams the songs title over and over before launching into one final run of energetic riffing. It’s also worth noting that this is the first song (of three) to feature the band’s newest member Rob Graham on bass, turning the duo into a trio and further adding to their onslaught of sound.

Clearly the band are becoming more confident in their craft as certain signs of experimentation in their music are beginning to seep through. Whether it’s the clapping-driven drums of Side By Side or what appears to be background keyboard/synths during the chorus of Favourite Son, Eoin and Rory are undeniably trying to further their sonic repertoire, and weirdly, it works. Whilst, like their name might suggest, the band aren’t incredibly radio friendly, there do in fact appear to be attempts at a more poppy sound, with particularly catchy vocal melodies during the chorus of the potential sleeper-hit The Woods.

Talking of sleeper-hits, Standing in the Cold is undoubtedly one of the better tracks on the album, with the slow beat and chorus-laden guitars complementing Eoin’s brooding lyrics. “You had my soul, standing in the cold, trying to get back home,” he croons, as the guitars slowly become more distorted verse by verse, eventually culminating in a screeching guitar solo that could have come straight from the fingertips of Kurt Cobain. At five and a half minutes long this is easily the album’s longest track, however the journey from the tentative start to the messy conclusion is one that feels effortless.

Whilst the raw sound that made their first album so exciting isn’t quite intact on their latest effort, ‘Undertow’ is an undeniably solid rock album that will almost definitely satisfy fans both new and old.

7/10

‘Undertow’ will be released on Infectious Music on the 6th of April

By Matt Austin

The Verse Staff

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