Nine years after forming in 2010, the Derbyshire outfit Drenge have arrived at the point where they release that traditionally “difficult” third album. ‘Strange Creatures’ turns out to be their most fully-realised effort yet, and sees them taking big steps forward.
Mark E Smith may have departed from this earth last year, yet the furious ‘Bonfire Of The City Boys’ has the imprint of The Fall all over its dangerous sound, making for a superb tone-setter and opening statement. Mighty rhythms thud and clatter alongside snaking guitars on ‘This Dance’, while electronics and angular riffs enter the mixture on ‘Autonomy’, helping to deliver a swaggering chorus. ‘Teenage Love’ is proudly post-punk, thriving on tricky drum fills and synths that bring to mind 80’s sci-fi, and the shadowy title track sneaks up on the ears with a wonderfully melodic verse and some flavoursome textures, making for a well-accomplished album highlight.
The adventurous narrative of ‘Prom Night’ erupts into a burst of angry jazz, before ‘No Flesh Mind”s intro evokes memories of early John Foxx-era Ultravox briefly, making way for atmospheric guitars and more of those hard, heavy drums that have become something of a trademark for the duo. Best watched without its terrible, off-putting promo video, the superb ‘Never See The Signs’ is already one of 2019’s finest singles. It’s a chunky helping of everything Drenge do best, a bold post-punk anthem that represents a new career high point.
Muddy riffage and reverbed vocals combine with spacey keys on ‘Avalanches’, before odd blues flavours and desert rock tones are hooked up to another bold beat, demonstrating how the group have developed over the course of three LPs. It’s entirely fair to say that this is Drenge’s most essential offering yet.