The Drums - The Drums

Antonio Rowe 11/06/2010

Rating: 4/5

Even as an avid fan of The Drums I like many was a smidge skeptical on what the outcome of their eponymous debut 'The Drums' would be. I don't think there has been a band since the hyperbole burst of MGMT or Klaxons, for whom the hype bar has been set so unreachably high nor one that have had the privilege of their faces adorning the front cover or pages of NME countless times. This hype was greatly justified with the release of the seven track ep 'Summertime' that surprisingly had nothing to do with summer but more to do with life's pitfalls, nonetheless it was a showcase of what The Drums were all about, that being; reoccurring Marr-like riffs, floppy fringes teamed with Americana style (hello varsity jackets and acid-washed denim), desolate reverbs, heart-wrenching lyrics and the showman personage of front man Jonathan Pierce.

Yet my scepticism was still present, surely a quartet from Brooklyn NY, who celebrated their first birthday just a few moons and suns ago, (just six months previous the band was nothing but an exciting prospect shared by summer camp buddies Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham), couldn't produce a substantial long player?

The phrase 'O ye, of little faith' comes to mind. The Drums have accomplished exactly what they needed and I hoped they would achieve. They've manage to create an album that not only matches the hype but exceeds the expectations they were burdened with a couple months ago. Of course there is the familiar inclusion of both fans favourites from the 'Summertime' EP, 'Down by the Water' and the blogosphere smash 'Let's Go Surfing' the latter, the beach indie pop take on the positivity America was feeling on the day of the inauguration of President Barack Obama not a narrative of their unhealthy obsession of a certain water sport.

This is the sole track that's brimming with such hope and positivity, the rest appears to be a self-indulgent commentary on how well to be blunt 'fucked up' their lives have been. Whether it's the tinny guitar riffs and stuttering vocal reverbs that surround the lyrics detailing how Jonny dealt with the death of his friend.

'You're my best friend'

'But then you died'

'When I was 23 and you was 25'

Or the swirling synths and sing-a-long choruses that are teamed with the pleading and neediness of front man Jonathan Pierce.

'I cannot take any more'

'Do you want me to skip town?'

'Do you want me to come home?'

The Drums trademark is crafting pessimistic pop, songs that have deceptively catchy poppy melodies and brain-washing riffs and drum beats but lyrics laced with enough down-trodden heartbreak to make anyone cynical about the concept of love or being able to lead a happy live at all for that matter. This style is at its optimum on 'Me and The Moon' with its pounding snare drum beats and riffs that wouldn't be out of place on 'The Sound of The Smiths'. Although with all things delicious and delightful, too much of a good thing and one can become to feel sick and The Drums are no exception. This happens with 'We Tried' with the woe is me lyrics becoming whiny and contrived instead of desperate and well 'real' and the insistent extended vocal phrasing style Pierce dons in each chorus run only reinforces my point about the whining.

Although there are hints of where The Drums may decide to venture in future years, even they may tire of the contrasting partnership of sad lyrics and poppy upbeat melodies that compose so much of their sonic. The penultimate track 'I'll Never Drop My Sword' sees Pierce adopt a well-welcomed more soft spoken approach to vocal delivery that sounds even more simple and understated against the jangly riffs. Also album closer 'The Future' sees The Drums deliver another welcome twist to their pessimistic pop template with a glockenspiel harmony bringing a little light-heartedness to the gloomy outlook of the track.

I'm well aware of the fact that I'm preaching to the opposition: with many of you daubing The Drums as a classic example of 'style over substance' their Warhol-esque understated interview personalities and lack of originality doing them no favours either. Of course there is the fact that the post punk pop that The Drums seems to have perfected wouldn't exist if it wasn't for British bands like 'The Smiths' or 'Orange Juice'. But if for one second you just forget your instinct of instant dismissal for any new act the NME mentions, let go of your inhibitions for any hyped act I know so many of you possess and embraced a bit of indie pretentiousness. You never know you might actually just like it.

Release date: 07/06/2010