Drones, The - I See Seaweed

It’s hard to be friends with the music of The Drones. They’ll lure you in then tear you apart, only to then sing a haunting lullaby to what’s left of you. The rockin and rollin aren’t your enemy (most of the time) – it’s Gareth Liddiard’s vocal abilities you need to be wary of. Without doubt the driving force of The Drones, his voice returns to the quartet after breaking out a solo record (2010’s gentler Strange Tourist) and by record’s end it’s obvious the singer has decided that a screech and scrawl are still needed for a healthy rock diet.

I See Seaweed is the sixth long player for the Melbourne band, and it’s a long time coming. Fans might be awful keen to snap up a copy, but The Drones’ tunes aren’t the best at making new friends and it is a testament the loyalty of that very fan base that they’ve been able to produce such a solid catalogue. It’s also a huge testament to the work these four put into getting out there and touring; they’re quite easily one of the best live bands Australia has and never fail to smash out emotional, devastating and super heavy shows.

It is exciting then, that I See Seaweed has such strong material for The Drones to work with now. The album’s eight tracks portray different angles to lyrical and musical power, alternating between folk balladry and terrifying rock and roll. ‘A Moat You Can Stand In’ is brutal, as Liddiard spits lyrics like a maniac. It’s the perfect example of how The Drones simultaneously scare the unaware away and embrace those already close to them. ‘How to See Through Fog’ is the closest thing to a single here, and along with the album’s title track are the most accessible songs to anyone wanting to acquaint themselves.

‘Laika’ though, is a real acquired taste. The refrain, “through half a pound of sugar on an old blackboard” repeats, winding you into a murderous haze, before the ensemble creates cinematic grandeur and introduces sweet harmonies to counteract Liddiard’s growl – it is total chaos and brilliance bound together. And that sentiment, albeit not as highlighted on their other tracks, makes I See Seaweed so exciting and yet another success for The Drones.
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