After the release of their aggressive, murky self-titled debut album, the Loveless brothers, aka Drenge, are back with a second album. The initial feel of Undertow is one of progression, as the brothers are now finding their feet and gaining a serious reputation.
There are many added elements to Undertow which were missing from the first record. One of those is the addition of bass player Rob Graham, which has enabled them to experiment with new things that they would originally have been restricted by if it were just the two of them. Album opener ‘Running Wild’ feels like it could have been on the debut album, but its gloomier and heavier, and would fit perfectly into an opening scene of a horror film. It sounds polished and dirty at the same time, creating a unique sound – an element that is ever-present throughout the album.
‘We Can Do What We Want’ again is typical Drenge, with its grimy riffs that have a slight blues feel about them. The song is centred around a highly addictive stomping groove, to which Eoin Loveless adds lyrics telling anyone who dislikes Drenge to fuck off. Adding a dash of arrogance for good measure: “No one tells us we are wrong and no one tells us when to stop”. The gothic riffs then suddenly change to something groovier on ‘The Snake’ – it presents instantly memorable riffs, almost like the Black Keys if they were playing doom rock.
There are still a couple of things that need tweaking, for example ‘Side By Side’ feels like Drenge have tried to add too much to one song, like hand claps and heavy emphasis on Rory’s hi-hat which makes it stand out (for the wrong reasons), which leaves it very disjointed. Undertow also needs something a little different to spice it up, which is where the title track comes in. ‘Undertow’ is a tremolo infected instrumental with enough power thrown in to tear through concrete.
Overall, Undertow combines elements old Drenge material but with new influences, showing clear sign of progression. Although there may be a few loose hinges, Drenge have made the difficult second album look very easy by way of grimy riffs with the added impact of arrogant snarly vocals.