November 15, 2010

The Drones – Havilah
blues-rock, garage-punk

The Drones - HavilahA work of muscular punk-blues, The Drones’ sprawling fourth full-length album is emotionally charged and very fiercely delivered, topping the excellent Wait Long By the River and The Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By as the Australian quartet’s finest work. Backed by bluesy percussion and guitar that alternates between punchy and sparse, lead-Drone Gareth Liddiard couples formidable songwriting talent with a gravel-lined, croak-&-roar delivery that makes every emotion he expresses sound like it’s been amplified multiple times over, and it’s undeniable that he reaches heights of excellence on this album rarely heard on previous efforts. The group show great discipline on Havilah, knowing exactly when to reign in their fury and when to push it into overdrive, making for an intense and dynamic performance that’s packed with memorable moments. Highlight tracks are in abundant supply, be it the stompy and humourous lead single “The Minotaur”, the melancholy, late-night lament of “Cold and Sober”, the measured storytelling of “The Distant Housewife”, the anthemic and ruthlessly indignant “Oh My”, the uplifting finale “Your Acting’s Like the End of the World” or the album’s thrilling mini-epics “Lay it Down”, “I Am the Supercargo” and “Luck in Odd Numbers” (in a pinch I’d pick that last one as the album’s best). Normally I wouldn’t go so far as to mention quite so many tracks individually, but Havilah is one of those freak instances of an album that plays out like one continuous peak, blessed with an almost embarrassing surplus of perfect songs, each one individually noteworthy in its own right. It’s the best Australian album of the decade, to be sure, and deserves to be remembered as one of the country’s all-time greatest works.