There are few collectives in the underground that truly define both a style and a corresponding era as well as Drain Gang has in the mid-to-late 2010s. They have taken the downridden and invariable sounds and aesthetics that so define nearly every artist in the collective itself and – through sheer talent and intuition – have come to spike its popularity on levels not seen until today. The style that Bladee, Ecco2K and the rest of the group originated is as relevant as it has ever been, and this peak has undoubtedly warranted the celebratory release of their newest collaborative effort “Trash Island”.

While only spanning just 23 minutes spread out among 8 distinct tracks, the group’s first fully collaborative offering since 2017’s “D&G” still sustains that perfect amount of emotional appeal combined with the signature mystical and atmospheric aura that is so characteristic of any featured artist’s catalog within the group. Though it is at its core a collection of more and more of the sounds that the general audience has heard for the past few years or so, the immense quality of the tracks provided at least in part play into the overall sense of enjoyment that one would get out of taking this project as it is.

The DG boys play their cards just right within this theme of subtlety throughout the entire album — and this idea manifests itself in a number of ways. Not only is subtlety a defining aspect of their overall approach in their musical construction – what with the emphasis on tonal downplaying and glistening synth leads – but also in the subtle changes that are made as each song proceeds in the tracklisting.

Each artist seems to dip out of each song at the right time, and as the tracklist continues, the selections as to which artist is on each song are done flawlessly. It is as if each member was meant to be on each of the corresponding instrumentals — a fact likely due in large part to the decision making from producers Whitearmor and Ripsquad.

This notion is especially highlighted when further examining the songs themselves; each artist plays their role as efficiently as they possibly could. The opening track for example – entitled “1:1” – sees both Ecco2k and Thaiboy Digital trading their definitive vocal passages, which are nicely broken up by a guest verse from frequent collaborator and fellow progenitor of this style, Yung Lean.

Further down the tracklist, the back-to-back serving of “Victim” and “Western Union” display the group’s keen eye for melody and audience captivation, as these songs are easily two of the catchiest and incessant within the album’s entire runtime.

While some tracks are more of the same as what fans are used to from a production standpoint (which is not inherently negative in this album’s case), tracks such as “Acid Rain” and “You Lose” serve as a more vibrant and even grandiose offering sonically. These little deviations keep the album fresh as a cohesive listen, while still staying completely true to the aforementioned themes of subtlety.

“Trash Island” may be full of everything that is often acclaimed and detracted upon in a respective analysis of Drain Gang overall sound and stature within the musical lexicon, but that does not mean that this project should be any less admired by those who do indeed align with the positive end of these traits. If anything else, this project can be taken as one that reminds everyone about the fact that these boys do mean business, and that they will stop at nothing to supply the public with their seemingly everlasting catalog of tracks.

While it does not (and could not) stack up to nearly any of its artist’s solo endeavors, this album displays the collective’s willingness to be about who they really are. Whether this leads to even more worthwhile content on a solo level for each member is up to interpretation, but it can be easily reasoned that the boys are not stopping any time soon.