Drenge – Undertow Review

Drenge announce new album 'Undertow'

Drenge shot to fame in 2013 with their debut self-titled album which was the grungy epitome of teenage angst with a shot of blues rock on the side. Two years later, and the duo have released their long-awaited second album, Undertow. Sadly, it doesn’t quite live up to the first.

The Loveless brothers have roped in a bassist to play on Undertow which adds a little extra depth to their sound, in some ways making it more complete and professional. However, as a result of this extra element the band seem to have put less emphasis on the loud, raw lead guitar which played such an important role on their first album. As a result of this, the intense and raucous nature of their music seems to have gone astray a little. That doesn’t mean to say that Undertow is a bad album; highlights include Favourite Son, a track which has Drenge’s signature frantic drum beats and defiant lyrics. The Snake, We Can Do What We Want and Side By Side are all equally stand-out songs, and Standing in the Cold is a punchy ballad with tortured vocals and an impressive guitar solo. Despite the majority of tracks being brilliant in their own right, in many ways the album simply doesn’t present them cohesively, which is what lets it down.

On Drenge, each track almost seamlessly ran into the other and the album felt complete. In contrast, Undertow seems to mix too many styles together. The heavy, repetitive dirge of Never Awake feels truly out of place sandwiched between the upbeat, light-hearted rhythms of Running Wild and We Can Do What We Want. Drenge opened with fast, angry and loud tracks and gradually meandered into quieter and slower numbers towards the end of the album, until it built up again with the dramatic crescendo of Let’s Pretend, almost mimicking a live set from the band which would progress in much the same way. Undertow mixes slow and fast in a way which doesn’t quite work; dark, pensive, unhurried tracks clash next to the noisier, faster numbers. There isn’t the same dramatic build up which makes you want to hear the whole album non-stop from start to end. It’s an album you can turn off half way through and come back to; it simply doesn’t demand your attention to the extent that Drenge does, nor like the band do when performing live. Overall, Undertow is a solid album and a good follow up to the first. However, I already eagerly await album number three in the hope that Drenge bring us something even bigger and better next time around.

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

Drenge – Undertow = 7/10

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