Drahla: Useless Coordinates review – swaggering, controlled-chaos debut

(Captured Tracks)
Leeds trio’s potent first album takes rugged-but-cerebral post-punk on a propulsive, saxophone-tinted journey

‘Ancient Egypt in the palm of my hand,” sings Luciel Brown on Pyramid Estate. Claiming to wield the power of an entire civilisation is a hell of a bold gambit for a band’s first album. But the rugged post-punk of Drahla’s Useless Coordinates is so potent, it might just raise the pharaohs right out of their tombs. The Leeds three-piece – Brown (vocals/guitar), Rob Riggs (bass) and Mikey Ainsley (drums) – forge their arrangements from scratchy-yet-melodious chord progressions, riffs more jagged than a mountain range, mean basslines and their singer’s hushed yet swaggering performance. Like their most obvious stylistic ancestors, Sonic Youth, everything feels primal and instinctive, chaotic but controlled.

Drahla: Useless Coordinates album artwork
Drahla: Useless Coordinates album artwork Photograph: Publicity Image

Take centrepiece React/Revolt, a slow and sweltering suite led by the screeching, free jazz-style saxophone of Chris Duffin (not an official band member but an important factor in the success of Useless Coordinates), before a more propulsive rock song emerges. Overlooking all is the cerebral Brown, who spends much of the record examining big topics in her own abstract way. “Have you ever seen a neon globe flicker?” she wonders on the consumerism-sceptic Stimulus for Living. “Fast food strip of bewildered mass.” Glorious closing track Invisible Sex probes gender fluidity and assigned social roles. Whatever the topic, Brown’s style is to punch out her lyrics, giving every thought to the impact she knows they deserve. Given how expertly all sides of Drahla come together, it’s odd that their arrival has been relatively low-key. If there’s any justice in West Yorkshire, that’ll be remedied really soon, really fast.


Dean Van Nguyen

The GuardianTramp

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