CD REVIEW: THE DRONES – Feelin’ Kinda Free
18 March, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
“It is not like other music. The Drones are not like other bands” screams the press blurb attached to this CD, and ain’t that understating the case.
Gareth Liddiard, band driver and sole original member, has always danced to the beat of his own drum, and this seventh album in fourteen years is quite possibly their masterpiece.
Such is there adventurous, experimental, searching for truth in rock n’ roll, applying labels and genrefying the band is pointless, much as it is with Nick Cave’s many sonic explorations. At the heart of The Drones lies Liddiard’s lyrics, and how they are interpreted musically by bassist Fiona Kitschin, drummer Christian Strybosch, guitarist Dan Luscombe and keyboard player Steve Hesketh. With more sounds and a lot less guitar (at least, straightforward untreated guitar) on this record Luscombe also handles some keys duty.
Lyrically the major themes seem to be paranoia, boredom and the immigration debate – heavy fuckin’ themes for an indie rock n’ roll record. Liddiard opens the album with Private Execution and the lyric, ‘the best songs are like bad dreams,’ a perfect place to start with such a dystopian post-punk musical world view.
First single Taman Shud criticises bogan parochialism, welfare whingers, big business and just about everything else wrong with this country – including politician Andrew Bolt. Bolt’s reply was to decry that The Drones were “stamping on the ashes of the west’s musical traditions.” It’s a ridiculous response, but one that thrilled the band: the approval of these out of touch fatcats is the last thing they’d crave.
Boredom is another completely left turn for the band, with seemingly random electronic squeals and a nearly hip-hop aesthetic, but it’s all Drones, baby, and features one of Liddiards most nihilistic rants:
‘I’m saying farewell to the welfare state
The only comfort is a caliphate
I’m guessing war sure beats any old north shore beach
Or any western suburb single player
I’m looking for the kind of test
A cataclysm make me beat my chest
Man any kinda ism beats a singing competition
On a TV fat with gnash and wail
They got me singing in a different scale
Don’t wanna push no pram
Or join a bikie gang
Or flip a burger for the infidel
No-one ever lives to tell
What’s at the bottom of an oil well’
Like I said: heady stuff, and Liddiard pulls no punches. It’s what makes Feelin’ Kinda Free – complete with ironic title – so compelling and important, not only as a musical piece, but also as social commentary for those open-minded enough to give it a fair listen, Mr Bolt.
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About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE