Rock ’n’ roll riffs fuse with grungy effects and an alternative spark on Drag by Ugly Blondes. Drag’s eight songs move intently ahead with driving guitar work and high-energy choruses, the kind of music that wouldn’t sound out of place on 105.9 The X.
The vocals trade off between gruff belting and an apathetic drone, which helps keep the sound of the record urgent and dynamic.
“Old News” is a bratty opening number, its snarling distortion announcing the band’s presence in a bitter manner. The bridge’s openness gives way to a big chorus filled with the driving quarter-note crashes on a beefy cymbal. It is an aggressive stake in the ground, setting the tone for a continuously dark album.
“Pity Love” charges full steam ahead, its sonic vastness and biting guitars meant to fill a big room full of sweaty, thrashing bodies, while “Amorfo” pushes an almost-theatrical macabre sound, featuring verses that resonate with gloom and uneasiness.
The harmonic riffs on “Whipped Cream” show off the clever guitar skills of Ugly Blondes in a subtle way — a kind of understatement that most rock ’n’ roll forgets in favor of overly flashy guitar solos. You get the sense the band has chops, but the members don’t feel compelled to make their individual talents the centerpiece of the song. Instead, they let the sum of the parts be the focus.
Even though the eight songs play with distinct elements from a myriad of hard- and alternative-rock subgenres, the musical theme is consistent, persistently dreary and seamlessly sinister.
This is the kind of album that recalls dark, grimy bars full of intrigue and mystery, a prime soundtrack to dark fall nights spent in existential dread.
For Fans Of: Queens of the Stone Age, riffs, black coffee