The Drums – [Album]

Friday, 03 December 2010

If you haven’t heard of The Drums, then you’re probably not an avid reader of New Music Express, Cliché Magazine, Clash magazine or Rolling Stone, where they have been lauded for their sound, even garnering the unabashed title ‘Best Hope for 2010’ by Pitchfork. You probably didn’t follow the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll. You probably don’t reside in Brooklyn. You may have, in fact, been living under a rock.

Or at least that’s my excuse.

The point is, if your ears have remained untouched by this sound, they won’t be for long. The three-piece, consisting of Jonathan Pierce, Jacob Graham and Connor Hanwick, have become the buzz band to talk about since forming in 2006 and the release of their first EP in early 2010. And it’s upon that wave of enthusiasm that they have released their first full length, self-titled album.

But this album isn’t so much hanging ten as it is body surfing. Still fun, but less thrills than the former.

The Drums opens with “Best Friends,” a poppy, upbeat beginning for the record, constructed with lots of synth percussion and warbling surf rock guitars paired with Pierce’s big airy vocals that echo and bounce around. It feels light, summery, uncomplicated and retro.

The album as a whole fits neatly under that banner: light, summery and uncomplicated. Listeners really searching for seams can come up with perhaps four subdivisions of sound ― fast, slow, more surfer rock, or more electro ― but they’re subsets listeners will have to work for to find. Take, for example, the first half of the album (roughly tracks one through five, for those of you playing the home version of this review); everything is rapid, upbeat, energetic. “Me and the Moon” makes use of synth percussion and rapid guitar work over those wide vocals, and a lot of electronics are at work here to add a cold, otherworldly feel to it.

On the more surfer rock side of things, fittingly,there is the track “Let’s Go Surfing.” With what feels like notes taken from the Shout Out Louds and Surfer Blood, The Drums dig up some physical percussion instruments (real drums!) to mix up with some heavy bass lines and fun guitar riffs. The vocals here have come down a couple notches from their previous electro falsetto; they’re not quite emo, but nicely in between at what’s now dubbed indie. Lyrically, it’s not much to write home about; it has touches of Weezer’s debut album with its' track “Surf Wax America,” but with less pop than Rivers Cuomo possessed way back in 1994.

Once listeners get past track five, things slow down significantly; at least compared to the clip at which the music had been running before. The track “Forever and Ever Amen,” a part of their EP which was a hit with critics, makes nice use of a piano here (or keyboards, I guess, is the proper term) while the bass gets a nice workout and the synth adds a lot of space to the track; making it feel big, broad, like being in a cathedral. The subsequent “Down By The Water” is methodical in its' slower pace, with some sweet doo-wop tones overlaying the surfer rock base.

Which brings us full circle to the four subsets of this album: slow, fast, surfer rock, electro. The Drums' self-titled album is a square meal of sound; solid in its' construction and consistent. And perhaps that’s the problem. It’s very hard to find an entry point to this album. The tracks don’t have much in the way of individuality – most feel built into the next one – and each adds to the structure of this post new wave album, but none stand out. It’s seamless in its' creation, one moving piece of work listeners can’t really get their arms around. The Drums is just fun pop rock, sugary sweetness without much meat. But man, they do it well.



The Drums – “Forever and Ever, Amen (Saint Etienne mix)”


The Drums is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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