Drenge – Drenge
Who are Drenge?
They’re sibling duo Eoin and Rory Loveless who hail from Derbyshire and have made a name for themselves by following The White Stripes method of making a terrific racket with just a guitar and drums. Bizarrely, they were namechecked by Labour MP Tom Watson in his resignation letter a few months ago – which led to a bit more attention for them, which they handled admirably – telling The Guardian: “At least he mentioned Drenge – no one knows who we are. It probably was the coolest resignation letter in political history. If he’d said, like, Palma Violets or something that would have been way lamer.”
Fun trivia fact: they called themselves ‘Drenge’ after becoming interested in Danish culture and playing football with some Danes, who kept shouting ‘drenge’ at each other. It turns out it means ‘boys’ in Danish, but the Loveless brothers adopted it as a name because “it sounded really ugly and vicious, and a good way to describe these riffs we’d been kicking about.”
What do I need to know about Drenge (the album)?
It’s their debut, obviously, and it’s being heralded in some quarters as a very welcome return of raw, passionate and powerful British rock with character and conviction. So if you’ve not done so already, that description should at least make it worth a quick listen (stream it here).
What’s good about Drenge?
It’s definitely raw and passionate, and is dominated by powerful, driving guitar riffs – which in the current sterile world of British guitar music genuinely feels like a breath of fresh air. There’s no slick production or rounded edges here, just the sound of two angsty young brothers on the edges of society clattering around in a studio being generally angry with the world.
When I first featured Drenge on All-Noise back in May I described their single ‘Backwaters’ as sounding like The Smiths gone punk, as it demonstrated a rare lyrical wit and poise (in this case focused on the tedium of a teenage life in rural England) wrapped up in rough DIY punk aesthetics. This approach permeates Drenge, and is no more evident than in the tongue-in-cheek reimagining of Willie Dixon’s ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’, here rebelliously titled ‘I Don’t Want To Make Love To You’ and featuring lyrics like ”I don’t want you to be my slave / I don’t wanna see you again” and ”I don’t want you to give me a kiss / ‘Cus I don’t wanna put you through this”. On paper it shouldn’t really work and, with it being on an album that opens with a song called ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’, you’d think Drenge was just an immature album with no real depth to it.
Drenge haven’t caught the ear of the political and chattering classes for nothing though, and there’s more to this album than petty teenage ‘issues’. Brutal violent imagery dominates Drenge, acting as an effective metaphor for society’s ills, and is backed up by some equally brutal musicianship which importantly always leans more towards the melodic spectrum of grunge-rock.
What’s not so good?
Despite its strong positives, Drenge suffers from being slightly one-dimensional. It rightly demands being listened to as a whole, rather than relying on the 80/20 format of filler and singles, but by the end of listening to 12 tracks of brutally raw and intense tracks it all becomes a bit samey.
Drenge is a very good debut album that more than delivers on the Loveless brothers’ early promise as a dynamic and exciting new band. Adding a few more shades to their sonic palette in the future will make them a real force to be reckoned with, but for now just enjoy the rough, raw and powerful exuberance of youth!