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Album Review: I See Seaweed

I See Seaweed, The Drones’ sixth studio album, sees front man Gareth Liddiard delve into darker and broader themes.Manic outbursts familiar throughout the past 5 albums are made all the
more palpable by their crafty use of dynamics and subtlety on their latest offering. Lyrically, the album will pull you down into the dregs of society, twist and contort you via Liddiard’s evocative delivery and spit you out in a daze.

“I see seaweed on the lawn/ There’s no point coming here no more,” sings Liddiard on the opening track. Emerging from a tangle of dissonant and downright malevolent piano and guitar interplay, Liddiard gears up to spit his sermon. Accompanied by tip-toe instrumentation, the haunting arpeggios are all the more sinister as Liddiard stabs at senseless “swarms” of breeders; “We’re lockstepping in our billions/Lockstepping in our swarms/Lockstepping in the certainty that more need to be born.”

Steve Hesketh’s piano work adds another dimension to The Drones’ sound; subtly polishing, ‘How To See Through The Fog’, dancing through spacious guitar and a more vulnerable Liddiard, where ‘A Moat You Can Stand In’, is a chord smashing, 50’s rock n roll piano fiesta.

Frustration leads to aggression, and in the case of ‘A Moat You Can Stand In’ Liddiard has boiled over resulting in a sure-fire injection of garage aggression. “All their disapproving Good Friday fixed grins/ Were effortlessly wrong about most everything” hurls Liddiard in a beat down delivery, likely to result in a hernia, while crunching guitars and thrashing drums envelope Liddiard’s rant.

The following ‘Nine Eyes’ is a pounding and reproachful tale
of self-isolation where a snarling Liddiard proclaims, “Seems I’m all I need/I’m finally on my own.” In ‘The Grey Leader’ Liddiard arguably vents his political frustrations; “The grey leader first seeks/About all that he speaks/Through the spyglass he holds back to front.”

‘Laikia’, a tale of a dog shot into space during a 1957 Soviet experiment, is as sinister and haunting as the album gets. Pounding drums, spine chilling piano and a female choir accompany Liddiard as he bellows “One day all you children/Will be white dwarves too/You’ll cave under yourselves/And become cruel, cruel, cruel.” The arrangement is reminiscent of a fucked up, twisted stage production; The tension builds and builds, invading every inch of your consciousness, while the thumping drums and descending piano melodies drag you into a black hole of despair and disparity. Liddiard is waiting at the bottom.

Calm after the storm is found in ‘Why Write a Letter you’ll Never Send?’ A beautiful slow burner drenched in a melancholy, apathy and a
yearning for simpler times.

“So goodbye my friend, I’m hitting send/Forgive me talkingstraight/I’m only trying to make the world/A much less painful place” sings Liddiard, closing the album on a note that brilliantly ties in all of its themes. The Drones have reaffirmed themselves as one of Australia’s greatest musical assets through a deeply provocative and engaging album. I See Seaweed is a force to be reckoned with.

Nick Reid

The author Nick Reid

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