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Drenge Ben Hewitt , August 27th, 2013 11:46

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.

All those early comparisons to The White Stripes and The Black Keys, then, feel increasingly wide of the mark. There's a whiff of studious endeavour from both Dan 'n' Patrick and (latter-day, post-humour lobotomy) Jack 'n' Meg that makes being a din-wreaking duo seem like a glum burden; a tiresome chore like varnishing a fence, or passionless missionary-style rutting carried out with a 'lie back and think of your Amp' sense of duty. Drenge, though, is giddily goofy. Take 'Dogmeat': a sludgy little thing with Eoin rasping out the delightfully daft come-on of "Cut out my tongue and turn it to dog meat/ Give it to the hobo, give him words to eat." The same goes, too, for the glitzily ramshackle stomp of 'I Want To Break You In Half', which sees them unleash a volley of schoolyards threats against an enemy ("I'm going to do you wrong, make you run to the hills/ Make you piss your pants") over a howl-heavy blitz.

Similarly, for all the knowing nods to grunge, Drenge is more indebted to the raucous mischief of, say, Pissed Jeans than the self-loathing shtick of Nirvana. Because rather than slavishly following the 'I Hate Myself And Want To Die' model, you can write songs with the adolescent sneer of 'People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck', too: with tongues firmly waggling in cheeks, Eoin channels a moody misanthropic teen, howling "I found a bird on the floor/ It was covered in blood" over a sleazy, Queens Of The Stone Age-like riff. And as far as sly humorous touches go, there's something decidedly wicked about 'I Don't Want To Make Love To You', which takes the classy, Etta James-sung 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' and drags it down into brattier waters; a declaration of loving devotion mangled into puerile piss-taking in a little under three minutes, courtesy of some squalling feedback and lewd sniggering.

Of course, if the Loveless chaps were just a pair of chuckling bozos, that would be dire. And at no point does it feel as if they're sacrificing bite for brain-sapping LOLs; their craft is one that's dependent on subtlety, on deft wit and wry flourishes. And what really powers Drenge is a niftily heavy take on small-town ennui; not, thank God, like The Enemy or Reverend And The Makers, or other Angry Young Men who like to pontificate about The State Of Things, but sardonic observations and everyday frustrations. 'Backwaters' is a sinister retelling of being stuck in an 'Every Day Is Like Sunday' dwelling, forced to brave the same fist-heavy town centres that Jarvis Cocker braved in 'Misfits'. "Blackened eyes and purple nose/ I go missing teeth, I got a lot of those," barks Eoin over nasty rumbling riff. "I catch a lift on the last bus home… I get thrown off, hit on, beat up before I drown." Likewise, 'Face Like A Skull', with its bass-skidding-down-a-winding-staircase swagger, is an ages-old tale of being a rubbish romancer ("Everything I do seems like I'm trying to be rude/ Everything I say is always taken the wrong way") while swansong 'Fuckabout' sees them finally give up the snarky front for a quaint, heartfelt ditty and the admission "I don't give a fuck about people in love/ They don't' piss me off, they just make me give up."

Of course, Drenge aren't reinventing the wheel, here. Sometimes, on the throwaway thrash-about likes of 'Gun Crazy' and 'Bye Bye Bao Bao', they're barely greasing it. Labour MP Tom Watson may have famously cited the duo as being response for some sort of life-changing epiphany, the impetus for him resigning from his job, but it's hard to see Drenge having quite that watershed impact on all and sundry. What it will do, though, is make your life a fuckload more enjoyable – and only a fool, surely, would sniff at that?