Brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless made a formidable pair when they introduced their stout, riffy guitar-drums duo Drenge in 2013. From a mineral bed of grunge, garage, punk, and post-punk, they mined a set of tunes that mixed youthful agitation and snarl with a bit of reverence for rock pageantry. Two years on and having moved from their small Derbyshire hometown of Castleton to burly Sheffield, the Loveless brothers offer their follow-up record, the more tightly focused and hefty-sounding Undertow. Aside from the addition of guest bassist Ron Graham (Wet Nuns) on three songs, the formula remains the same with Eoin providing the guitar and vocals and Rory on drums. Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, Jarvis Cocker) cloaks Undertow in a discerning layer of finely crafted faux-fi studio grime that plays to the band's strengths, providing a heavier atmosphere and presence than on their debut. After a textural, effect-laden introduction, Drenge put it all together on "Running Wild," a strong opening shot that lays Eoin's melodic Dave Vanian-esque baritone over a swirling sea of anthemic grunge and garage riffage. "Never Awake" takes a similar path, blending bits of heroic, dark alt-rock with the attack of Nirvana in a layered, minor key gem that is both complex and accessible. Lead single "Favourite Son" is all attitude and timeless punk charm, which is more in line with the material from their debut. But while their debut acted more as a fairly straightforward (and cleanly captured) document of Drenge's live sound, Undertow's cohesion comes from its intentionally murky tone which provides just right home for their (mostly) controlled fury.
(CD - Infectious Music / Liberator Music #LIB173CD)
Review by Timothy Monger