It seems to be an unfortunate reality that, even after a good decade and a half of releasing material, too few ears in the US have had the pleasure of witnessing the sounds of the Aussie group, The Drones. When I say “unfortunate reality”, it’s really a polite way to say “insufferable crime”. Led by my pick for one of the most incomparable leading singer/songwriters in the universe, Gareth Liddiard, they tear a hole through a constantly shape-shifting style of rock that at times can be so visceral, you’d swear you were stuck dead-center in a Wake in Fright nightmare scenario.
Now seven full-length albums in, one significant thing The Drones have managed to accomplish each time out is grabbing their listener by the throat with a powerful opening track. In all seriousness, I cannot think of another band since the turn of the century who has been more successful at fully impressing in those ever-important initial minutes of a record. On their latest, Feelin Kinda Free, this proves to be no different. A tornado of synths, drums, and guitars fades in on “Private Execution”, and by the time Liddiard’s scathing vocals make their introduction around the 1:25 mark of this seven-minute epic, there’s little reason to doubt that this will be another incredible offering by one of the world’s most under-appreciated bands.
Over the course of its eight thunderous tracks and 40 minutes of run-time, Feelin Kinda Free features many moments without flaws and culminates in something close to a perfect rock record, all the while pushing the band to new directions as they display every time out. Whether they are pulling the trigger lightning fast on a killer tune like “Taman Shud”, or dialing things back for one of the most beautiful ballads in recent memory (“To Think That I Once Loved You”), it’s evident that they are on the top of their game and making the majority of bands look like School of Rock-beginners. It’s only on the back half of the album, particularly on semi-staller, “Sometimes”, where I began to pull off the 5-star pedal. Still, even the lesser Drones songs are better than a lot of what I hear in rock music today. Here’s to hoping Feelin Kinda Free becomes the album to heighten some US exposure for these fine folks from Perth.