“The best songs are like bad dreams,” sneers Gareth Liddiard at the very beginning of this album, offering a solid thesis statement for The Drones’ career as a whole. Having made bleak, snide garage/blues rock since 1997, they have become one of the most definitive voices in Australian rock history. Their seventh album finds them exploring new sounds while retaining the sarcasm and divisiveness that has become their trademark- and then some.
Feelin Kinda Free proves a fitting title- The Drones seem to be cut loose from the constraints of “acceptable” social discourse, as well as genre. It’s the auditory equivalent of an explosive; no one is safe from its zone of destruction. The result is exhilarating and fierce, and one of the best albums of their immense catalogue.
The Drones add a drama-filled, blistering sound to amplify their bold lyrical statements. The Godspeed You! Black Emperor-channeling opener “Private Execution” is full of ear-splitting guitar screeches, while first single “Taman Shud” adds a groovy drum and bass line to match Liddiard’s tongue-in-cheek cynicism at just about everything and everyone, including Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt (the latter of whom voiced their disapproval of being singled out, much to the glee of the band). The album slows in pace for tear-jerker “To Think That I Once Loved You”, and later they try out a trip-hop-esque beat for “Sometimes”, in which bassist Fiona Kitschin takes on lead vocal duties.
The Drones strike gold with every sound they try on Feelin Kinda Free, which is remarkable considering the scope of the album. It proves just what a unique presence they are on the national and international music scene; no one but The Drones could pull off such an ambitious statement. Feelin Kinda Free is exactly the slap in the face we needed.