Australian alternative and garage rock band The Drones were responsible for releasing one of my favorite rock albums of 2013 with I See Seaweed.
What made me like I See Seaweed so much was how fed-up, frustrated and moody Garreth Liddard’s vocals and lyrics were and how well the instrumentals complemented that. The album had mostly quiet songs that featured noisy and very authentic outbursts that conveyed their sentiments quite well.
I was excited for more or a different shade of that when it came to my attention that The Drones released a new album entitled Feelin’ Kinda Free in March of this year. However, this new album is substantially different from its predecessor, which was apparent right from the start with the first track Private Execution.
Featuring an incredibly dirty and groovy bassline under outrageous and at times ear-piercing synths Private Execution actually kicks this album off really well. The whole song has some form of underlying tension and just feels so wonderfully sleazy and catchy to me.
I wish I could speak as favourably about the rest of the album, but unfortunately most of the other tracks kind of failed to grab me in a similar way.
Before I talk about the gripes I have with this record, let me say that the songwriting is not what drags this album down for me. The music is quite different from the previous Drones album, but most of the songs on here are both catchy and diverse and even though I think that this album drops off towards its end, I wouldn’t point towards that when explaining why this album failed to keep me interested.
To be exact, there are two very distinct aspects of this album that I dislike. The first thing is the synthetic sound of this record and highly frequent use of effects. There are a lot of synths and triggered drums on this record and I’m not a fan of how they were used at all. Secondly, the implementation of the female vocals. I felt like the female background vocals were well implemented on their previous album, but on Feelin’ Kinda Free they just sound intrusive and, for some reason, really annoying. Their impact on my enjoyment of this record is even more severe since Fiona Kitschin’s vocals seem to be a lot more present throughout this album, compared to I See Seaweed.
In contrast to that, I have to say that I really liked the bass on this album. The basslines are groovy and I like how present they are in the mix. I also have to say that, despite me criticizing the use of effects on this album, the effects used on the bass did not bother me atll. I rather enjoyed them, to be honest.
Furthermore Gareth Liddiard’s vocals and lyrics are still very enjoyable to listen to, even though what I initially liked about them is no longer present on Feelin’ Kinda Free. The frustration is gone, but he still writes and presents his lyrics with a wink.
Overall, I’d have to say that Feelin’ Kinda Free disappointed me as a follow-up to I See Seaweed, but as an album, it’s rather solid. I appreciate that the band chose to change their sound quite significantly and tried out lots of new ideas, but I can’t deny that most of them unfortunately didn’t click with me at all.