Drag are a 4 piece punk band from Birmingham who have a sound that is remarkably similar to Sugarcoma and Rachel Stamp. The band deal in bouncy riffs and snotty vocals which means their Kickstarter funded debut album Neurotica: A Compendium of Tales Regarding Body & Mind is both a mouthful and quite a raw experience.
The driving force behind the band’s music is guitarist Velma who certainly knows how to write a catchy riff. Most of the melody is derived from Velma’s guitar work and it’s bolstered by a nice series of throaty bass-lines care of bassist Matt.
Instrumentally, the band are exciting and energetic to listen to with songs like Shock & Bad Taste and The Ugly being satisfying pop-rock compositions. What lets the band down is vocalist Heather who insists on delivering her vocals in a spoken manner. There’s almost no melody in her voice throughout the entire album and the choice of speaking the vocals makes it sound like Heather isn’t particularly bothered about her performance. This is highlighted during the rare occasions when Heather screams as these moments actually grab your attention.
What makes this painfully more obvious is when Heather actually sings on the album’s ballad Dandy Boy. When Heather sings she actually delivers a really strong, yet delicate vocal performance that marks the best song the album by a country mile. The song’s instrumentation builds from bare-bones guitar to the inclusion of drums and piano before Velma stamps on the overdrive pedal and really sets the whole thing off. Dandy Boy is a smashing rock ballad that I’ve found myself listening to on repeat and it sticks out like a sore thumb against the pedestrian nature of the rest of the album’s songs.
The other bizarre choice in the lyrical department is the band’s infatuation with the word ‘whore’. I have no qualms with the band using the word because if anyone is allowed to utter it then it should be a woman, but it just sounds a bit childish. When Heather delivers lines like “dirty little street-whore” and “I’ll be your dirty whore” it just sounds like a desperate attempt to shock that is quite cringeworthy to listen to.
Drag are an accomplished punk band who have a real talent for writing memorable songs but they really need to showcase Heather’s vocal ability because when the woman gets to flex her pipes she puts forward a captivating performance. The emphasis on spoken vocals makes Neurotica a largely humdrum listening experience but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out Dandy Boy which is Drag’s shining beacon of hope in an otherwise unremarkable rock album.
Drag’s Neurotica: A Compendium of Tales Regarding Body & Mind is released independently on the 28th of July. You can pre-order it direct from the band by clicking here.