Everything on Dregs seems at odds with the dreamy, wandering vocals of Tuff Love’s Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear.
The name, Dregs – monosyllabic, Germanic, full of heavy consonants – the single-word song titles, the two hard snare-drum beats that open the album, the clarity of the guitars, the instantly memorable melody to ‘Amphibian’s chorus; there’s a stark contrast throughout the EP between these clear, direct elements and the more woozy, shoegaze-y nature of Tuff Love’s vocals, that drift softly above the grungey, college rock base.
Tuff Love take elements of the more psychedelic side that always threatened to emerge from Britpop, and place them on top of a soundscape that draws almost entirely from the 90s American alternative.
In the riff that opens ‘Crocodile’, there’s a reflection of Pavement’s ‘Conduit for Sale’, and there’s hints of early R.E.M. in the jangle-pop of ‘Threads’, but there’s reminders of Slowdive, even of The Charlatans or The Seahorses, that simmer underneath, presenting a uniquely transatlantic combination.
Out of this mix, Dregs arises as a skillfully crafted, diverse set of songs that races through ideas, and while it’s made out of a series of 90s alternative tropes, Dregs is able to be coherent, varied and fun.
Words: Tony Boardman