In 2014, 16 years after they first came together, The Drones are one of Australia’s all time great rock bands.
Their fifth studio album, I See Seaweed, was released in 2013 to rapturous reviews, as have all its predecessors. It’s a record that confirms the Drones as that rarest of beasts: a band that just keeps getting better. Their music has won both critical acclaim and the respect of their peers over the years ‚Äî¬†their 2005 album Wait Long By the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float Bywon that year’s Australian Music Prize, a $20,000 award that bought them new boots and guitars and funded a European tour, and their records constantly appear in both the Australian charts and best-of-the-year lists the world over.
The one constant feature of the band’s career has been the continually evolving brilliance of Gareth Liddiard’s songwriting. His style is as distinctive as his delivery ‚Äî¬†each song contains a wealth of ideas and themes that fit together in ways both oblique and intriguing, all rendered in an idiosyncratic vocabulary and often leavened with a very dry sense of humour. The result is one of the most recognisable and compelling songwriting voices in music today, one that’s tackled everything from Australian history to global politics and beyond ‚Äî¬†all in a manner neither didactic nor self-important.
I See Seaweed builds on both the personal and the political over the course eight songs that address subject matter as eclectic as global warming, exploring your old hometown via Google Street View, and the sad story of doomed Russian space dog Laika. It’s quite possibly their best album yet ‚Äî¬†Liddiard’s writing continues to grow ever more sophisticated.
2013 saw them support Neil Young and Crazy Horse on their Australian/New Zealand tour, curate the second Australian All Tomorrow’s Parties event featuring sets from My Bloody Valentine, Einst√ºrzende Neubauten, Pere Ubu and Swans, amongst others while “Shark Fin Blues,” perhaps the band’s best-known song, featured heavily in the second episode of Breaking Bad producer Mark Johnson’s new series Rectify.