After last year’s killer Hold Fast Demons 12″ I had high expectations for The Drowns’ debut album, and Under Tension takes that anticipation and smashes it out of the park. Their EPs showcased a band on a journey, picking up musical influences from different cities to create a sound they could call their own. With Under Tension they have come home to roost, bringing those sights and styles with them as they fine-tune The Drowns sound. They have the ability to take snapshots of life, telling short stories of peace, hope, politics, drinking and protest in their allotted three minutes timeframe.
I’m getting touches of old Minnesota punk/ mod band The Strike here and there, which might seem like an obscure reference, but those that know will get exactly where I am coming from! Think clean guitars, loud drums, bouncing basslines and vocals that swing from a gruff punchy delivery on songs like Black Lung or Them Rats to an ultra-melodic power-pop style on the likes of Wolves On The Throne or Cue The Violins.
In covering the Jimmy Cliff classic The Harder They Come there is a subtle nod to the sound and outlook of bands such as The Clash – using punk as a voice of protest and a vehicle for change. A lot of bands are playing it safe nowadays, banging out some good records that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, but The Drowns stick their necks out, stick to their guns and in doing so have created an early contender for album of the year! Tom Chapman