EP Review Drugg - Shackled

Three excellent pop songs, each one as good as the last.

The only shackles evident on Drugg’s debut EP are contained in the title. Otherwise there is a wonderfully inventive approach taken that will delight fans of forward-thinking pop. They’ll find much to love here, because at its heart, ‘Shackled’ is comprised of three excellent pop songs, each one as good as the last.

It’s highly unlikely that the listener will recognise this on the first listen, however; these pop songs have been warped and utterly transformed, their foundations built upon and tinkered with to produce a sound dripping with atmosphere. The modus operandi of the duo (Tom Hanley on vocals and ‘sounds’, and Max Whatley on drums) is clearly, ‘let’s make people work to understand us.’

They have the right idea, because if the effort is put in, the rewards are bounteous indeed. Hanley is fond of using his voice as more of an instrument than anything else (similar to how ex-Battles man Tyondai Braxton did it), and this has the greatest effect on ‘In These Found Times’, a song rendered unexpectedly immediate by its repetitive, three-note bass groove.

Put everything together and you get something that displays a band fully in control of themselves. They could go literally anywhere from here. I, personally, prefer the more percussive ‘Crooks’, a song in which Whatley’s tribal drumming style is given plenty of room to breathe, and marks him out as an inventive sticksman in the process. Overall, think ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’-era Animal Collective getting stuck in a lift with The Flaming Lips circa ‘The Soft Bulletin’, and you’re about halfway there

Drugg will play a show on 24th March for Vice, with oOoOO and Husband.