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Greatest hits: album reviews

Music reviews: Dwight Yoakam, Drenge, and Passion Pit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 10:51pm

Drenge
Undertow
ADA

Since the release of their energetic and critically acclaimed self-titled debut in August 2013, this postgrunge duo from Derbyshire have toured extensively in Britain, cementing themselves as one of the UK’s thunderous live forces.

For their follow-up album, the Loveless brothers – guitarist/vocalist Eoin and drummer Rory – look to expand their skull-battering killer riffs with the addition of bassist and childhood friend Rob Graham.

Produced by Ross Orton (coproducer of the Arctic Monkeys’ AM) the minimal garage sound has been harnessed into a much heavier groove. The Snake apes Nevermind-era Nirvana complete with Cobain growl, while multiple layers of guitars lead the brooding Standing in the Cold into dreary shoegazing experimentation. There’s a return to the full-on garage punk of their earlier sound on the rocker Favourite Son and, with a rockabilly vibe and infectious vocal hook, the first single We Can Do What We Want is already one of the year’s best rock tracks. Full of sneering vocals, dark imagery and intense pummeling riffs you can almost taste the dirt under their fingernails.

 

Dwight Yoakam
Second Hand Heart
Reprise/Warner Bros

You'd think that after selling a veritable cowshed full of records - more than 25 million worldwide in an almost three-decade, sparkling career - Kentucky-born country music legend Dwight Yoakam might sit back and take it easy for a while.

Judging by the reckless joy of the vibrant Second Hand Heart, his second album since re-signing to Reprise Records and the follow-up to 2012's widely adored 3 Pears album, Yoakam continues to embrace the same youthful spirit as he did in his 1980s heyday.

Nashville's radio tastes may have changed considerably since the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter brought his "hillbilly" music into the rock mainstream many years ago, but this is vintage Yoakam and he sounds as vital and as sharp now as he did way back when.

Kicking off with the melodic and hard-rocking In Another World and She, Yoakam's country music continues to have a rock'n'roll spirit to it. The honky-tonk swagger of Liar could easily be mistaken for a '60s Rolling Stones jam, while on the hip-shakin' Elvis-tinged The Big Time, Yoakam's twang becomes The King's magical drawl.

 

Passion Pit
Kindred
Columbia Records

The fact that indie-synth rockers Passion Pit are even releasing a third album is an accomplishment in itself. Michael Angelakos, the band's 27-year-old founder and songwriter, has battled bipolar disorder for nearly a decade and has stated that the illness played a large part in preventing him from completing albums in the past.

Kindred is the story of Angelakos growing up: "It's all the things I wish I had been doing instead of dealing with all of the complications from my disorder. It's also about figuring out my relationships with other people and how to deal with love in a very real way." It's certainly euphoric, uplifting music with soulful and thoughtful lyrics, but it doesn't make great departures from their familiar saccharine-sweet crescendo-building formula.

Fizzing opener Lifted Up (1985) with its "1985 was a good year!" chorus, is a glittery hook-laden pop track straight from, you guessed it, the '80s. The bubbly pared-down pop funk of Where the Sky Hangs seems almost minimal, and a relief from some of the over-stuffed sonic dizziness found on Until We Can't (Let's Go) and All I Want.