Release Date: Aug 19, 2013
Record label: Liberation Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
When preparing to listen to a band with a name like Drenge, you’re not exactly going to be expecting a relaxing aural massage to provide some low-key R+R for your lobes and drums from the get go. It’s onomatopoeia in a sense: ‘drenge’ could easily be a verb, and if you were to define it, it would certainly involve bringing down a crescendo of energy-efficient, dirty aggression onto an unsuspecting bystander. In reality, the word is actually the Danish for ‘boys’, but that isn’t to say you won’t feel like you’ve been on the receiving end of an intense ‘drenging’ after wrapping your ears around this superb debut record.
You’ve got to feel for Drenge. A month or so ahead of the release of their first album, Labour MP Tom Watson quit the shadow cabinet and, in his open resignation letter, described them as 'an awesome band'. Overnight Drenge went from being a highly-rated but hardly overhyped new act to being that-band-that-caused-that-MP-to-have-a-midlife-crisis-and-resign, giving every half-arsed music hack (hello!) from here to Hope Valley and beyond a hook on which to hang their review of Drenge, threatening to cast them as some sort of unwitting The Good Suns for eternity.
As soon as you hear the name, you know full well Drenge aren’t going to be easy on the ear. Despite hailing from the quaint English village of Castleton – a picturesque tourist trap in the Peak District that’s all rolling green hills, dad-friendly dry stone walls and a disproportionate number of casual fleece-wearers – this isn’t the kind of stuff that you’ll be able to natter about with your nan over a nice cream tea. Instead, Drenge are a clatter-skrunk pairing made up of brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless.
Drenge take their name from the Danish word for boys, and upon learning of this fact it’s easy to feel simultaneously relieved and concerned. Relieved for reasons of pronunciation: the Scandinavian origin means that the word is presumably pronounced with a hard ‘g’ and two syllables. So it’s ‘dren-ger’ as against the more unfortunate sounding ‘drenj’, which could easily have been invented by Jay from The Inbetweeners as a way of describing the female genitalia.
As an example of going gloriously off-piste, it takes some beating. In July, when Tom Watson MP decided to step down as Labour's election co-ordinator, he began his resignation letter to Ed Miliband by talking about the Falkirk byelection, and somehow managed to end it professing his love for a two-piece blues-rock band from Derbyshire. Of course, Watson's recommendation alone isn't sufficient reason to pay attention to Drenge's music.
Boredom often begets a trove of genius. It can be the tinder that creative sparks need to engulf their own dull microcosm in an inferno of brilliance. For Eoin and Rory Loveless (what a perfect rockstar nom de guerre), that’s exactly what drove them to Drenge. Fed up of getting wrecked in fields and focusing energy into adoring Danish cinema, the twosome decided to send a jolt of lightning up their village’s clenched jacksy, by utilising their pre-destined knack for being as ruddy loud as possible.
It’s midway through 2013 and the year releases one of its most compelling and engaging albums in a fit of disinterest and revulsion. Drenge’s self titled debut could be remembered as one of the high points of British rock music, it’s just that good. The young duo of brothers Loveless have blended the intoxicating fury of Mclusky with the driving haze of Queens of the Stone Age in a take-no-prisoners reworking of The White Stripes’ one drummer, one guitarist approach.Part of the genius within Drenge is the seemingly-naïve lyrics, painting vivid and dense images.
Heed the Bard, folks, for he is seldom wrong: the fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. And so it is that siblings Rory and Eoin Loveless have shown themselves to be rather bloody sage indeed. Because, they ask, why bother wallowing in the primordial punk swamp with a po-faced grimace and a stick made of solid tedium rammed up your arse? Why be stuck in grunge's self-loathing gloop? Why settle for self-important dreariness when, instead, you could be like Drenge: a pair of 20-somethings from the sleepy English village Castleton, who've realised that making a nasty, feral racket can actually sound like a whole lotta fun.