The Drones are a band that make me realise just how out of the loop I am when it comes to what’s cool in non-radio friendly, Aussie music. I had never heard of them at all until a couple of years ago. I had never listened to them until earlier this year when I gave their 2008 release Havilah a spin. But if you were to pick up any issue of any street press in Melbourne, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find an article or two about the band, or front man, Gareth Liddiard. This band may have passed me by for well over a decade now, but I’m trying to catch up, slowly but surely. This time, with Gala Mill.
Dark and threatening, rambling and on edge, seemingly designed to make sure you can’t find any sure footing as Gala Mill opens, Jezebel is no easy listen. But at the same time, it makes me more than just a little excited about what might be in store. The opposite is the stripped back I’m Here Now and Words From the Executioner of Alexander Pearce. It’s almost like the band members had a bet to see who could play the least amount of notes. And the sparse result makes those few notes all come through in such a major way on both songs.
The dicks start to swing and the rock is unleashed with I Don’t Ever Want to Change, and while I liked the songs the preceded it well enough, this more raucous sound seems to suit the Drones’ sound better. They sound like a band of caged animals, at their most dangerous and entertaining when let loose.
After listening to The Drones and Havilah, I wrote, “I may not have loved Havilah or my first experience with The Drones, but there’s no denying that’s it’s filled with hints of riches… I’d just like it a lot more of those moments were more focused and organised.” Gala Mill definitely delivers on that focus I was asking for, but now I’m not so convinced it’s what the band needed. Because as much as I liked the darker, ominous moments, whenever the rock was unleashed, I wished it had come more often so they could fit more in.