Strange Creatures

On the Loveless brothers’ third album, the supernatural looms large

This new album from Eoin and Rory Loveless shares a vital undercurrent with their previous records: escapism. Drenge are from the small Peak District town of Castleton, and their music expresses the frustration of monotonous country life, trapped by their postcard surroundings with plenty to see but nothing to do. Strange Creatures is like a midnight car race through country lanes at ungodly speeds away from the law or some unknown force – with the anticipation that something is lurking in the shadows ready to pounce.

The shouty, thrilling ‘Bonfire Of The City Boys’ opens the album. Its propulsive riff conjures those images of a manic car chase, while singer Eoin thunders through the track, reaching a climax with throaty roars while the music crashes around him. The versatility of Eoin’s voice is more apparent on this album than it has been before, from the harshness of ‘Bonfire Of The City Boys’ to the laconic storytelling on ‘Prom Night’ and the melodiousness of the title track.

This record is perhaps the first time we see Drenge exploiting the additions that were initially made to their live band, and exploring the expanded instrumentation to its full potential. On the devilishly delightful ‘Prom Night’ the sleazy sax line slithers through the story of a school disco from hell. The woozy melody paints Eoin as the narrator in a Carrie-esque tale: visions of him lurking in an alleyway, leaning against a doorframe in noirish mode he watches the horrors unfold. “Something stepped out from under the rubble / Whatever it was it was like Halloween,” he sings. As well as the sax, there are touches of synthesizer on ‘Avalanches’ and expansive percussion on closer ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’ alongside a haunting vocal chant; small additions add to the overall feeling of fullness on the album.

On Strange Creatures the wrinkles have been ironed out. Quietened is the scrappiness of the to-ing and fro-ing of the guitar and drums during Drenge’s infant stages, instead thick layers of sound rage on. Something Drenge do particularly well is take the sickly sweet and throw it into the mud, adding a twisted element to the quotidian: “Milkshakes make me sick / Lactose intolerant” (‘Teenage Love’) or “A boy vomits up his canteen dinner in the high-school’s honeysuckle garden” (‘Prom Night’). This album still sounds undeniably Drenge-y, rattling and crashing along like a ramshackle rollercoaster, only this time all the nuts and bolts have been tightened.

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