Review: Drenge – Undertow

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Drenge are a grunge-metal alternative rock band consisting brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless. Their self-titled rocky debut was praised by critics for its rawness, raucousness and energy. Their latest album Undertow is even more superb.

It takes on a slightly more atmospheric and subtle tone than their debut, with themes of frustration and small-town boredom repeating throughout the album. The opening track is a beautiful introduction, which runs smoothly into the next track, ‘Running Wild’, an epic sounding song about finiteness and decay shrouded in echoey dissonant noise.

Quoting Drenge’s Spotify biography, their music “was cultivated from the countryside landscape and their desire to escape from it”. Themes of anger, boredom and dysphoria are Drenge’s forte, with words that work harmoniously with their music –this resonates in the second album in particular.

‘The Woods’ is an incredible tune, with lyrics that paint a story of the aftermath of a drunken argument, remembering only “the sound of your voice, and a ringing in my head”. This is accompanied by a chilling guitar hook which captures feelings of desperation.

The heart-breaking closing song ‘Have You Forgotten My Name’ focusses on dissatisfaction with home, singing about “empty streets where footsteps never ring, village halls with roofs now fallen in”.

The above examples demonstrate Drenge’s ability to combine angry head-banging rock and roll with a poetic sensitivity and depth.

Their sound has developed further significantly since the debut. Rather than just basing their sound around punchy guitar riffs, Drenge have made better use of effects such as reverberation to create an eerie and atmospheric wall of noise. This is so effective it almost sounds as though some songs have been recorded in a church. Rory (the drummer) has experimented with more complex rhythms in this album – particularly in ‘Side By Side’ and ‘Never Awake’ and ‘Undertow’ which are interesting to listen to.

It has a great overall feel, with tracks rolling seamlessly into one. Clocking it in at just 37 minutes, it is the perfect length – long enough to indulge yourself in, but not long enough for you to start getting too angry with the world.

Supporting a range of alternative acts such as Wolf Alice and the Maccabees (here in Southampton I might add!), the pair of brothers are certainly one to watch.

One thing the album does lack is a punchy standout track that’s great to sing along to, which the song ‘Fuckabout’ from their debut was perfect for. On the contrary, the whole of this album will leave your ears ringing.

Undertow is out now via Liberator Music/Infectious.

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