Release Date: Apr 7, 2015
Record label: ADA
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The magic of Drenge’s debut album arrived long after its initial release. As they tore up festival stages and cemented themselves as one of the UK’s finest live acts, brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless discovered a new belief. By no means standard-fare on record, tracks like ‘Bloodsports’ and ‘Fuckabout’ found another gear on stage, the latter rinsing anthemia for all its worth.
When their self-titled debut clattered out of the Derbyshire village of Castleton in August 2013, it was clear that Drenge were troublemakers of the very best kind. Stroppy, pale-faced brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless looked committed to near-vampirical levels of sun avoidance. They boshed out a thrilling, no-nonsense racket borne of the frustration of living in isolated countryside.
Drenge came from Castleton with a bullet. Their debut album bristled with intent, a thirty eight minute slug of noise and brio. Songs arrived with one idea, took two minutes to pound it into your skull, then kicked down the door on their way out. That this racket came from a two piece straight out of a sixth form talent show was part of its charm; it was all adolescent frustration, two brothers fighting to pierce the country air.
Brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless made a formidable pair when they introduced their stout, riffy guitar-drums duo Drenge in 2013. From a mineral bed of grunge, garage, punk, and post-punk, they mined a set of tunes that mixed youthful agitation and snarl with a bit of reverence for rock pageantry. Two years on and having moved from their small Derbyshire hometown of Castleton to burly Sheffield, the Loveless brothers offer their follow-up record, the more tightly focused and hefty-sounding Undertow.
Bringing grunge back successfully into the mainstream consciousness is no mean feat, but it is something that Drenge achieved with their critically-acclaimed and brutally uncompromising self-titled debut in 2013. The Derbyshire duo, made up of brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, pulled no punches on their first effort, with its heavily distorted guitar riffs and violent imagery tapping into a new generation of unsatisfied teenagers. However, as good as their debut was – they even attracted one of the oddest endorsements of all time from outgoing MP Tom Watson – Drenge have some catching up to do.
You’ve got to feel for the Loveless brothers, AKA Drenge. The Derbyshire duo’s massive post-grunge racket started to break out in 2013, only to be usurped by duo Royal Blood’s massive post-grunge racket not long after. The latter became an almost-instant hit; the former are more of a slow burn, touring relentlessly and writing this second album.
Thank god Drenge are a thing. A few years ago, amid the wave of slightly insipid arty, middle class indie-electronica that washed in with Django Django and Alt-J, I remember wishing for of the grit and nihilism of the bygone days of Nineties alt.rock. Unfortunately someone was obviously listening to that prayer, because we were very soon neck-deep in grungy guitars, mopey voices and bands that dressed like the cast of Empire Records, which would be fine if they were any good.
Drenge are a three-piece band that suggest how Nirvana or the White Stripes might've turned out if they'd grown up stupid and contagious in the North of England. The band's 2013 debut came with adorable grunge complaints like "People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck." On the follow-up, singer-guitarist Eoin Loveless and his drum-crushing brother, Rory, keep nuancing their vintage alt-rock: "The Woods" is a Sonic Youth-y creeper that quotes the Lord's Prayer, and "We Can Do What We Want" recalls the Arctic Monkeys at their punkest, with Eoin moaning, "We're like Bonnie and Clyde, but without any ride." They make going nowhere fast sound like the only way to travel. .
Drenge’s 2013 debut was a welcome anachronism, the Loveless brothers’ heavy riffs and gory lyrics at odds with the prevailing tide of polite indie. And yet in the wake of the continuing successof kindred spirits Royal Blood, a second dose of Drenge’s nihilistic take on the blues now seems somehow timely. Undertow certainly opens well, Running Wild and Never Awake showcasing an improved grasp of dynamics and tension.
Still riding the wave of critical adoration their self-titled album afforded them in 2013, Drenge's Loveless brothers – Eoin and Rory – have said they want Undertow to be "a better attempt" at communicating the thrill of their live show. Odd then, that the overriding feeling upon firing up opener 'Introduction' – a swirling instrumental mass of Twin Peaks synths and haunting bass reverb – is one of considered complexity. It's by no means a bad thing; layers of sound have been added to what was previously a nasty, feral racket.