The Drones | Havilah
Most Likely To: soundtrack your next bender.
Hailing from Austrailia, The Drones are helmed by gravel-voiced Gareth Liddiard. Since Here Come the Lies, their 2002 debut, The Drones’ music has married blues, noise, and pain. Havilah, their most recent release, brings to mind sea shanties, neglectful hygiene, and booze. Despite the inclusion of a song entitled “Cold and Sober,” Liddiard sounds like 4 o’clock shadow slapping up against a flask of whiskey.
Although the Drones count one woman, bassist Fiona Kitschin, among their ranks, Havilah is easily one of the year’s most masculine records. On “Oh My,” Liddiad wails, “It’s time to get your gun license / I see four horsemen ride.” Testosterone drips from “Minotaur,” the record’s first single, which meshes Mick Jagger-style speak-shouting with a guitar line so intense it will pick a fight with you for calling it a melody.
A few of Havilah’s gentler songs offer a modest reprieve, including “Cold and Sober,” which has floated around in The Drones back catalog for years until it was finally ready for release. The saddest song ever written about the 1968 moon landing, “Penumbra” has an eerie melody which floats through the air, no longer tethered by gravity. While the album’s closing track, “Your Acting’s Like the End of the World,” feels more upbeat, the lyrics tell another story: “I need a palindrome to keep witches / And get rolling stoned and drop my defenses / All this doom and gloom has got to me.”
Taken from the Old Testament, “Havilah” means “stretch of sand” in Hebrew, and it can connote either a geographic location or a man’s name. In The Drones’ clutches, Havilah offers listeners a path to the darkest recesses of the soul, as on “I Am the Supercargo” where “One way or the other / You’ll get thrown into a pit… it’s like we’re never there.”
If that’s where you’re headed, then you might as well bring along Havilah to darken the way.