TITLE: STRANGE CREATURES
LABEL: INFECTIOUS MUSIC
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Describing their sound as “grunge-inspired blues-pop”, Sheffield’s Drenge are aiming to strike third time lucky with their latest record ‘Strange Creatures’. Preparing to begin a UK tour of live music and signings, it seems the band are moving smoothly into the industry. Bringing together a range of retro and recent musical elements, they are gaining a sizeable fanbase and are bringing their listeners a sound that you don’t find too often in the charts nowadays.
After a writing and recording process of “ripping themes and ideas apart and sewing them back together”, the record stands out as having an evolving track listing. From striking, attention-grabbing tunes, to more mellow tracks ideal for chill-out moments, as well as songs that seemed to have jumped out of the 1980s and into the 2010s for a new younger audience.
“From striking, attention-grabbing tunes, to more mellow tracks ideal for chill-out moments…”
The opening track, ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’, may take new listeners by surprise. Sounding more like an audiobook to musical accompaniment, lead vocalist Eoin Loveless makes a creative choice to speak the lyrics, turning the track into a dramatic reading. It plays soft and steady during Loveless’ vocals, but as soon as they come to a halt, the music grows heavier with the inclusion of electric guitar riffs and a more complex drumbeat. It adds a sense of drama and creates a storyline of the song; an atmosphere not too dissimilar to a dystopian radio play, a la Orson Welles. If stepping away from the ordinary is what Drenge is aiming for with ‘Strange Creatures’, then there’s no introduction more fitting than a spoken-word narrative upon a grunge-infused melody.
The title track, ‘Strange Creatures’, is found partway through the listing and there’s already a transition between a strong and highly tense sound and a softer sound, bringing out the inspirations from past and present. Beginning with the distorted strums of the guitar, it has an aural sensation that can send young and old listeners to the popular music of the 1980s; a vibe that continues as further synthesised and electronic elements are thrown in. ‘Strange Creatures’ is definitely one of the more intriguing tracks on the record – fittingly memorable for a title track – and follows an underlying theme of the supernatural (and possibly extra-terrestrial) in the world. The way these pieces and parts are put together makes it a suitable song to lie back and chill out to, as it creates a more relaxing atmosphere than previous tracks. It’s one that calms the mind at one moment, but also make you wonder and ponder at another moment; who doesn’t take the time to think about the near abstract depths of what is beyond Earth?
“There’s always room for an outfit who want to change the norms and challenge the standards of genre”
Taking a bricolage approach to music, splicing and joining together sounds and rhythms, brings the album to a satisfying finish with the track ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’. Sticking with the mellow feel – one of two ends of Drenge’s spectrum – it begins with a simple handclap pattern and low vocalised chanting. The sound is reminiscent of the soft-rock sensation of classic bands such as The Zombies, and is one that’s difficult to not get along with and enjoy. It has that classic touch that will pull in listeners of any age, any musical background.
To say there’s a hint of multiple genres would be correct; Drenge have decided that pulling everything apart and sticking and stamping it all back together in different and interesting compositions is the way to go. There’s always room for an outfit who want to change the norms and challenge the standards of genre definitions of music; bringing in pop, electronic, grunge, and such over- and underrated corners of the music world to spark alive one of their own. That’s the drama they play to life in ‘Strange Creatures’. Here’s to a successful release for the group, and indeed an interesting tour cycle.