More than three months ago, independent rock band Drones launched the campaign to promote its new album Our Hell is Right Here. In the time since, audiences have been presented with almost half of the album in the form of singles. To be precise, the album consists of 13 songs, so it’s close. Those singles, five in total, have painted a strong picture for the record, presenting content both musical and lyrical that will reach a wide range of listeners. One of the songs that best supports that statement comes in the form of the album’s single, ‘Epitaph.’ It will be discussed shortly. The album’s latest single, ‘Live and Let Live’ is another example of why the album’s content proves appealing. It will be discussed a little later. The album’s title track is one more example of what makes the album stand out. It will also be addressed later. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s content, the record in whole shows it is deserving of consideration for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums.
Drones’ new album Our Hell is Right Here, its first since the release of its 2018 album Exile, is a presentation that is an equally positive introduction for audiences who might be unfamiliar with the band and its work as it is to the band’s established fan base. That is proven from start to end of the 41-minute presentation through its musical and lyrical content alike. One of the songs that most clearly supports the noted statements comes late in the album in the form of its single ‘Epitaph.’ ‘Epitaph’ presents a musical arrangement whose stylistic approach and sound that emo and emo-punk fans will find familiar and welcome. The sense of urgency in the arrangement exhibited through the guitars, the general tempo and front woman Lois McDougall’s vocals engage listeners immediately. Even the tone in her voice adds its own touch. That whole pairs well with the song’s lyrical theme, which McDougall herself said centers on the topic of mental health, to make this song even more accessible. That is because the noted lyrical content will reach so many people who are dealing with their own mental health struggles.
The song’s message addressing the very real and very serious issue of addressing mental health comes right from the song’s lead verse, which finds McDougall singing, “Curses line my spine/But I’m the luckiest fuck in town/Got nothing to weigh me down except for the devil inside my mind/Bruises on my tongue confess the lies that we try to hide/I guess there’s nothing left for me to say except goodnight.” This in itself is an easily accessible statement. This is someone saying that he/she may look OK on the outside, but is so weighed down emotionally/internally. The commentary continues in the second verse, stating Wildfire is all that I desire inside/Forever pine the ghost of my pride/You better believe it/Will I ever be satisfied?/Someone is calling out my name but I can’t seem to place the face/Epitaph reads “- ‘18”/Still running this hopeless race.” That “wildfire” that is noted is a metaphor for just wanting to feel alive. The remainder of this line is the statement of someone trying to balance his/her thoughts and that inner struggle. The song’s final verse continues that inner emotional struggle as it states, “What stays before these eyes is all of my design/So how do you still crawl inside?/So much for out of sight/I’m not ungrateful… just a little lost.” Given, there is no real resolution here, but that is okay. So many people today still do not have that resolution, either. In lieu of that resolution, what audiences get here regardless, is a statement overall that will help those people relate and in turn receive some form of musical and emotional therapy through this statement. Keeping that in mind with the fact that the song’s musical arrangement pairs as well as it does with the song’s lyrical content, that whole creates its own engagement and entertainment. To that end, it is just one way in which the album shows its strength. It is just one of the songs featured in this record that shows the record’s appeal. ‘Live and Let Live’ is another example of what makes the album stand out.
‘Live and Let Live,’ the latest single from Drones’ new album, is an up-tempo composition whose frenetic drumming, driving guitars, steady bass and equally strong vocals come together to make the whole one of the album’s most notable tracks so far. It is a very sharp, well-produced composition that is right up there with some of the best garage-punk style works of today and even days gone past. The energy in the song’s arrangement does well to help work to drive home the discussion in the song’s lyrical content about social acceptance of one another regardless of gender, age, or any other factor. As McDougall stated of the theme, “‘Live & Let Live’ is for anyone who has ever felt trapped in their own skin. We’re all born with unique bodies. We don’t have a say in what they’re going to look like, yet for some reason, we’ve built a society where we’re judged based on our appearance – The colour of our skin, our height, our hair colour, our sex, our body shape. Try to see past what’s been drilled into you by people’s contrived views. We have to actively work to fight those deeply ingrained preconceptions because we are all unique, and most of us have felt the damage of unfounded opinion in some way.” In other words, we need to get past our existing bias and change how we see things, because the world has changed. The manner in which the message is conveyed here does well to help translate that message.
The message begins with the statement, “This shell it weighs me down/Why do we come in peace to strangers/But loathe others of our own?/Sometimes the skin doesn’t fit right/Like one button skipped/And you can’t fight the overwhelming urge to hide/Just be yourself/There’s no-one else.” It continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “If you ain’t got nothing positive to say/Your double negatives will fix it all/Genetic inheritance/Luck of the draw/Don’t sweat about the physical/Chased through a jungle of poison tongues/If you play the lion, they will run/The golden ratio is unremarkable.” What this is ultimately doing is poking fun at those who are less educated and just want to make others feel bad while at the same time telling others to be brave and stand up to the bullies. It is a message promoting self-confidence. To that end, this song’s lyrical message is sure to connect with listeners as much as that featured in ‘Epitaph.’ When this song’s uplifting message pairs with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole therein makes this song another clear example of what makes Our Hell is Right Here a strong overall presentation. It is just one more example of what makes the album worth hearing, too. The record’s title track is yet another of the record’s most notable works.
‘Our Hell is Right Here’ is a unique musical presentation. Over the course of its more than three-and-a-half-minute run (three minutes, 32 seconds to be exact), the song puts forth an arrangement that melds elements of punk and metalcore for a whole that really reaches out so much to a wide range of listeners. It is just one more way in which the record’s musical content serves its own positive end for this record. When the fire in the song’s arrangement joins with the song’s lyrical theme, which focuses on the matter of abuse of power, the song gains even more traction.
The topic of abuse of power is one that is wholly relevant now more than ever. What has happened in America over the course of the past four years is proof of that. Now given, this song is not directly aimed at the heinous words and acts of Donald Trump, but could just as easily apply to him just as much as any corrupt leader anywhere in the world. In the case of this song, the statement is more of a broad commentary not just related to politics, but to those who would abuse power in general. It opens with the lines, There are things that burn and things that don’t/Some die and some that won’t/So petrified I’m neither one/We’ve got a lot in common but I wish we didn’t have this/They say “me too, me too”/That’s it/One hand on my shoulder/One holding your hair/Whispered “Your secret’s safe with me.” This comes across as a statement by someone who is seeing everything going on and pointing out all the corruption, whether it be political or even by someone with power, such as an abuser. It is a strong statement. As the commentary continues, the speaker becomes more disillusioned and discouraged, stating, “Buried it so deep/And now the spring has come/I can’t seem to recall the scent/The heroes of my youth unveiled their carved out eyes/Why am I so surprised?/The colours are fading out/The more I learn about the world, the sadder I become/How did it take so long for me to learn the truth?” Later in the song, the anger and frustration is turned seemingly to the religious leaders of the world, with the lines, “You knelt down at the altar/Confessed to heal the pain/As if our faith would save us/No it was all in vain.” Things ultimately end with the subject left feeling completely disenfranchised, stating, “Your words sank in/My heart begged for fact/Truth hit like daggers until my world collapsed/Revealing our worst fear – Our Hell is right here.” These indictments will echo in listeners’ minds, unquestionably. When this impact is considered with the impact of the song’s musical arrangement, that whole makes this song that much more powerful. When the song is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the record clearly shows its strength and appeal. To that end, the songs noted and not noted here make the album in whole a viable candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums.
Drones’ new album Our Hell is Right Here is a surprisingly strong new offering from the independent rock band. It is a presentation that will appeal equally to the band’s established fan base and to those less familiar with the band and its body of work. That is proven collectively through the record’s musical and lyrical content. Each of the songs examined here serve to support those statements. They show that the record’s musical arrangements and lyrical content alike will connect easily to the noted audiences. The same can be said of the songs not noted here. All things considered, the album ultimately proves to be among the best of this year’s new independent albums. Our Hell is Right Here is available now.
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