♫♪  The Drones - “Feelin’ Kinda Free”

Cynicism is so easy to come by these days. But as Louis C.K.’s bracing Horace & Pete and Australian dirge pop veterans, The Drones have ably shown, it is far from the end of the conversation. Where there’s life, there’s life. We need to remember that we don’t exist in bubbles, we just cravenly (call it “bet-hedgingly” if ya like) create that illusion for ourselves. It’s always a relief when entARTainment can play a role in derailing us, however momentarily, from our flimsy faux-fortresses. Our existential fatigue should be better earned and a lot less theoretical. Stands to reason that the cynical and the sanctimonious are both as malleable as the water that makes them up. Enter the emulsifiers.

Since 2013’s superb I See Seaweed there has been a couple years to consider the riches that this fearsome bastion of rock (albeit the post-mortem horse fart that’s left of it) has bestowed. They could’ve dropped off the face of the earth and there’d still be a discography so consistently signature yet tactfully refined that one can almost forget that guitar music’s greater significance has become a moldy curatorial slog (lookin’ at you, Vinyl). Turns out The Drones have been readying an LP that not only retains their vital essence, but often feels unlike anything they’ve done before (programmed beats, Eno-esque drifting on “Tailwinds”, and lots more vocals from bassist Fiona Kitschin). Infectious lead singles “To Think That I Once Loved You” and “Talman Shud” respectively flaunt their frothing balladry and texturally riveting approach to arrangement. Don’t let that album title fool you. This is still the jaundiced, bombed-out band you’ve come to know and love. When you hear that titular line in opener, “Private Execution” it is clear that the freedom he’s citing is that of embracing one’s greater obsolescence and insignificance (“I’m going straight to DVD” goes the following line). For good measure, the next track defiantly rails against those very things.

Perhaps the album is a more groove-based effort, as frontman Gareth Liddiard noted in an October Guardian interview, but you won’t be mistaking ‘em for The Killers or whatever (I really can’t see Liddiard ever going the slinkyserpentine, fedora/vest route). With its formidable social-critique based verbosity, contiued dirge-affinity and controlled chaos song-structures, Feelin’ Kinda Free’s danceability sits in a dubious place. But The Drones are still firing on all cylinders just the same, and we’d do well to absorb their barrage come March 18.

UPDATE (3/19): The stream is no longer available.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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