Drahla: angeltape [Album Review]

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Captured Tracks [2024]

Album Overview: Drahla’s second full length album, angeltape, offers a profound exploration of their artistic evolution and personal experiences. Following the success of their 2019 debut, Useless Coordinates, and the Third Article EP (2017), the Leeds-based art-rock experimentalists found themselves navigating a tumultuous five-year gap between records. During this transitional period, the band encountered a myriad of challenges, both professionally and personally. Lineup changes, including the addition of guitarist Ewan Barr, brought about a significant shift in the band’s dynamic, ultimately reshaping their approach to music. You can hear the refocused post-punk approach on angeltape as the record utilizes the space between their notes for a more dramatic impact while Chris Duffin’s saxophone plays an even more dramatic effect on several tracks.

Musical Style: Drahla’s musical style is very avant-garde art-rock experimentalism. They discard conventional melodic structures and embrace uncertainty and angular arrangements. The interplay of driving bass riffs, charged drum patterns, and melodic spoken delivery creates an enveloping atmosphere heightened by searing saxophone accompaniments. It is a balance on this record with some really tight sounding songs that elevate Drahla to a new level with a few tracks having a more repetitive vibe.

Evolution of Sound: The addition of guitarist Ewan Barr signals a significant shift in Drahla’s dynamic, allowing them to dismantle previous limitations and explore new sonic avenues. This reshaping of their approach results in a sound that is considerably darker, tonally more complex, and conceptually introspective.

Artists with Similar Fire: Drahla’s experimental sound shares similarities with bands like Dry Cleaning and Sonic Youth, known for their avant-garde approach to rock music. However, Drahla’s sonic landscape also has a catchy snarl in places that reminds me of Wet Leg but really stays uniquely on their own.

Pivotal Tracks: “Under The Glass” showcases tight grooves, perfectly disjointed saxophone and earworm guitar riffs. This track has all things that are good about Drahla. “Lip Sync” is a solid glimpse into Drahla’s artistic evolution, featuring contemplative lyrics and an off-kilter core. The closing “Grief In Phantasia” highlights vocalist and guitarist Luciel Brown’s ability to manage each track carefully and give them each a special edge while the track sums up the album with its both chaotic and calm sections.

Lyrical Strength: Drahla’s lyrics tackle themes of grief, trauma, and introspection, while also celebrating moments of sentimentality and support during difficult times. Luciel Brown’s contemplative lyrics, combined with the band’s experimental sound, create a multi-sensory experience that immerses listeners in their introspective world.

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Thomas Wilde

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