There's an old maxim, variously attributed to Bono or country legend Harlan Howard, about “three chords and the truth” being the core requirements for musical impact. It's a notion underpinning successive generations of punk-infused bands, from the Pistols through Nirvana to The Libertines, and its latest exponents are hotly tipped duo Drenge, who further distil the essence down to just the guitar and drums palette employed by the likes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys.
Unlike those American bands, however, Drenge brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless exhibit virtually no overt blues influences, relying instead on the heavily distorted guitar riffs common to grunge and garage-band psychedelia.
It's there front and centre in the raw-boned, serrated rock noise of opener “People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck”, a blast of teen outsider rage swathed in splashy cymbals and couched in lateral lines like, “I broke my skin of my teeth on the steps to the church”.
“Dogmeat” is a similarly raucous snarl of dissent, the lazy swagger of its riff tempered by a martial drumbeat, while the single “Bloodsports” offers a galloping groove sketched in slippery slide-guitar chords. “Face Like a Skull” makes the Nirvana influence explicit with a progression akin to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, albeit a rather more prosaic expression of social disconnection.
The closest the duo come to the blues is on “I Don't Want to Make Love to You”, which delivers its blunt antipathy with something of the insouciant swagger of the British beat-boom R'n'B it echoes, albeit in grunge livery. Crisp and abrupt, it's one of the best things here, the standard tending to slip as they stretch out: carpeted with distortion, “Let's Pretend” is a grim, pedestrian trudge, while the self-abasing masochist anthem “Nothing” is spoilt by the unnecessary elongation of a vocal chant coda.
But all the relentless peering into the abyss ultimately only seems to bring them full circle, concluding as they began with another song railing against people in love, the oddly tender “Fuckabout”. Perhaps they've simply spent too much time in each other's company?
Download: Bloodsports; Backwaters; I Don't Want to Make Love to You