The Loveless brothers attempt to surpass their reputation as Britain’s most underrated garage band but instead get weighed down by all the elements they try to throw at the record. While Strange Creatures does not reach the heights of previous albums, it’s ambition, lyricism and dark energy still deserve appreciation and album number three is by no means a slog.
Drenge’s eponymous debut and 2015’s Undertow were celebrated for their youthful brashness and uncaged energy. Strange Creatures, has evidently been a more formulated approach to thread together a brooding horror theme.
Opener, ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ is a sporadic but enticing introduction that sounds readymade for the soundtrack to a Danny Boyle film. Followed by the riotous rollercoaster of ‘This Dance’ and the electronic-fuelled ferocity of ‘Autonomy’ it begins to look as though Strange Creatures could well be on track to equalling the energy of their debut.
The excitement that comes with listening to Drenge is that their sound is off the rails and exciting – from here on however the album loses its twists, turns and loops, (bar a few exceptions) and returns to a more comfortable but underwhelming journey.
That is not to say the album is not sonically experimental – ‘Prom Night’, ‘Avalanches’ and closing track, ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’ all offer something to bite into. From the former’s Carrie-esque horror story concept and brass instrumentation to the latter’s hotel-lobby swagger reminiscent of Alex Turner’s latest venture. But together, in an album, they seem incoherant.
Like the caverns of Drenge’s home town of Castleton, Strange Creatures is a dark and devilishly determined record but equally it is confined by its predetermined concept.