Drenge’s third studio album, Strange Creatures, follows and expands on their 2018 EP Autonomy.
Image Credit: James Winstanley
The Castleton-born, Sheffield-based brothers have a distinguishing sound; whether that be lead singer Eoin’s brash vocals or the militant drumming of Rory, they are unparalleled.
Since 2013, we've seen their raw and grungy self-titled record evolve into the clean and crisp production that is Undertow (2015). Strange Creatures possesses the same clean production with a post-punk aesthetic in place of the grunge style they stepped onto the scene with.
Recorded by long-time collaborator, Ross Orton, at Sheffield’s McCall Sound studio, Strange Creatures is “the most considered record we have ever made” according to the band and it really shows. Where Undertow saw the addition of Wet Nuns’ Rob Graham on bass for live sets, Strange Creatures sees another addition to their live band.
The ten-track album consists of the 2018 releases ‘This Dance’ and ‘Autonomy’; acting as a catalyst for Strange Creatures showing the new post-punk flair they’ve adopted. Aside from the previews we have into this record, there are still five tracks that are fresh and unheard.
Album opener, ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ is a spoken-word rant with a likeness to Talking Heads’ David Byrne’s vocal style. The lyrics, “your eyes were like two Catherine wheels / just spinning, spinning, spinning” capture a sense of urgency and insanity in the delivery of both vocals and increase of drum pace.
The title track, ‘Strange Creatures’ dabbles into the world of shoegaze and the use of peculiar sound effects. “Can we put it to bed or can we knock it on the head” acquires a wobbled distortion, showing the weird and wonderful considerations Drenge have had on this record compared to their previous two.
‘Prom Night’ dazzles us with an 80s cinematic nature; a dark, nostalgic homage to high school proms. With an unusual and unexpected debut appearance of a saxophone, ‘Prom Night’ holds suspense and tells a story, setting an eerie atmosphere purely through the noise. The final track, ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’, shines a light on yet another out of character decision from Drenge. The track opens with an odd chant and an acoustic guitar possessing an almost deep South American twang of 1930s New Orleans; even down to the vocal style and subtle drums as opposed to the usual unhinged sound.
Drenge said in a recent press release, “It’s a nocturnal record. A psychological horror movie on wax. Warped hallucinations from mundane observations as you move through it. Is that a school or a skyscraper on fire in the distance? Or maybe it’s just the ski village.” In a way, it makes total sense.