The Drones hung out in a mill on the island of Tasmania to record this follow up to last year?s brilliant ?Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By?. A mill on Tasmania would suggest a rural, at-the-edge-of-everything album but for a rural recorded album, ?Gala Mill? sounds surprisingly un-rural. ?Gala Mill? is a blackened album, a record of lost memories, heroin addicts, nuclear testing, denial and depression. Packed in songs that cross the five minute mark regularly, The Drones aren?t held back by pop?s unwritten songlength rules let alone by whatever the hell you want. The Drones do things their way.
And it doesn?t take long before you?re convinced by ?Gala Mill??s perverse charms as the album is opened by one of the best rock songs of this year. ?Jezebel? is an opener equal in power as ?Shark Fin Blues?, the song that introduced us to ?Wait Long By The River??. Singer Gareth Liddiard literally tears the edges of his sentences with his fierce growl and from the song?s seven plus blazing minutes, not a single second is unnecessary.
It?s not all unbridled rock ?n roll howling at the moon though. ?Dog Eared? is an intimate rockballad gone wrong with a couple of epic bridges and a broken hearted Liddiard approaching a rough mixture of Bob Dylan?s grain and Nick Cave?s nightly croon. Things get deeper with the tale ?Words From The Executioner To Alexander Pearce?. A song about an escaped prisoner turned cannibal, Australia 1820, feels just like yesterday the way Liddiard sings it. But what?s done is done and I?m certain there isn?t a way better to forget than with the frantic countryrock storm that?s ?I Don't Ever Want To Change?. Imagine being thrown in an outback countrybar in the middle of last saturdaynight, the weekend before the uraniam mines opened again. Orgasmic, beer, insanity, beer?more?.beer. It?s the album?s jauntiest moment and besides the heavy topic it contains, of a depressed shopkeeper who burns his business down for the insurance money, it radiates enough energy to make you forget about that for it?s four full minutes. That and beer, obviously.
The Drones have created a record that?s so delightfully out of touch with any trend that ruled 2006, it?s tremendously refreshing and above all, of huge quality. If you buy only a few rock albums this year, make sure ?Gala Mill? is on your list. Highly, highly recommended. 9/10 -- Joris Heemskerk (18 December, 2006)