Drenge LP (Review)
Black-Keys-meets-Richard-Keys duo smash it on their way back from a night on West Street for a debut album as wild and rangy as their Castleton home…
We’ve been out to Castleton in the Peak District a few times and there’s a few things you notice. Such as The Devils’s Arse, the daunting crack in the landscape we almost fell down when we did an In Session there a while back. And then there’s the sky at night. It’s blacker than in Sheffield. Like pitch. We knew a kid at work who used to describe it as ‘tunnel dark.’
And Britain’s best new band is from there.
Coming on like Mudhoney on miaow miaow, Drenge’s hugely-anticipated, self-titled debut is – on first hearing – a tunnel-dark, punk rock void of Rory Loveless’s revved up drums and brother Eoin’s roaring vocals. But let your eyes adjust and there’s some breathtaking sights in this night walk of an album.
Their sibling setup has drawn comparisons to the likes of Black Keys and White Stripes but there’s just as much Malcolm and Angus AC/DC in the likes of ‘Dogmeat’s martial riffs, while ‘I Want to Break You in Half’, feels like The Cramps doing elevator muzak (you know, the elevator in The Shining that lets a load of blood off at the wrong floor?), as well as highlighting some of producer Ross Orton’s best work as producer.
‘Drenge’ (the album) is something of a double act too. First half is a rattling run through their incendiary singles, wherein ‘Bloodsports’ is finally revealed as a Dean Martin-esque Lounge classic and 'Backwaters’ a roll around Sheffield streets, complete with a Hawley-like croon from Eoin (who has a voice with more settings than a Yamaha Portasound PSS680). But then the second half pushes out in increasingly startling directions. Drenge have already had plenty of grunge comparisons but eight-minute album highlight ‘Let’s Pretend’ almost feels like a Sebadoh or Red House Painters track, which is a bit of a suprise, as well as confirmation of their range.
An album that starts with an escape from the Steel City and by the end, in Eoin’s words ‘sets its sights for Mars’, ‘Drenge’ is the most significant Sheffield debut album release since 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' and a thrilling step in the dark. We're quite struck by it.
Words by Rob Barker