The Drones

Havillah

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

If the Drones have grown a touch more polished and focused with time, it's not at the expense of creating compelling music -- if anything, Havilah even more clearly places the band as one of Australia's best rock bands ever, something that goes beyond the clear twang in the voice of Gareth Liddiard right from the start of "Nail It Down," the album's dramatic start. With guitars moving from the understatedly tuneful to sweepingly angry without losing the pace, it suggests Havilah will be nearly all brawl, but instead it takes a generally calmer turn, Liddiard's voice front and center even as the band artfully and alternately arranges itself around the singing and then bursts forth on the breaks. Even that doesn't always happen, though, with "Penumbra" essentially being the Drones unplugged, the calm guitars touched with a distant wail at the song's end sounding like a lost soul. Songs like "The Drifting Housewife," its delicacy marked by bells and building strings even as the lyrics meditate on identity and social expectations, and the tense "Careful as You Go" show that even as the Drones sound less overtly frenetic they still exude a sense of unsettled threat, suggesting the build to a final fierce resolution rather than necessarily reaching it. If nothing else, some of the opening lyrics to "Oh My" show that the band's contrarian spirit is far from dead: "People are a waste of food....they're only happy when they're burying their friends."

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