The Drums – The Drums

Posted on June 23, 2010

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written for High Voltage

Much hype has surrounded The Drums in recent times. Earlier this year their successful ‘Summertime!’ EP warmed the hearts of many and their live shows began to be spoken about in glowing terms. Soon enough big-name heroes like Morrissey began to attend their gigs and a glut of television appearances ensued. Therefore, the time seems entirely right to release their first full-length disc of guitar pop songs with a self-titled album that should facilitate further progression. It contains some superb melodies and joyous guitar lines, with their ability to craft enjoyable pop music seemingly undying.

The most unique aspect of The Drums’ make-up is their ability to disguise bleak lyrics within a jubilant sounding vocal melody. This interesting juxtaposition of styles is intriguing to listen to and means that they possess far more depth than many of their rivals on the indie-pop scene. Of course, they are not the first music act to try such a thing – Morrissey has been doing it for years – but in comparison to many of their modern peers it sets them apart. Singer Jonathan Pierce has quite clearly had his heart broken and this LP allows him to get much angst off his chest. Tales of lost love can often appear pedestrian but Pierce injects genuine feeling and emotion into his songs, therefore validating this slightly downbeat approach. ‘Me and the Moon’ offers the most overt example of this pent up frustration, as Pierce sings “Darling you can be so unforgiving; you can be so un-loving”. It is this kind of straight talking that has become the hallmark of his lyrical approach.

The disc opens with the already familiar song ‘Best Friend’, which laments the death of a friend who died too young. It is a touching track which demonstrates Pierce’s ability to tackle tough subject matter with aplomb. The singing is excellent and the melody is serene. Indeed, vocal melody is without doubt the band’s most potent weapon and often Pierce will ditch singing words in favour of singing a melody without words – and it works a treat. ‘Down By the Water’ is very different to many of their songs, with a slower tempo and stripped-down drums, it makes for a very moving and poignant piece of work, reminiscent of a 1960’s girl-group track. ‘Book of Stories’ is another of the album’s most prominent tracks, with heavy echo on the vocal and catchy guitar intro, it offers another disapproving lyric about life, with Pierce wailing “I thought my life would get easier/ Instead, it’s getting tougher without you”.

The music on the album is often very simple, with no flash solo sections or needless jamming to speak of. The guitar tones are clean and clear and the arrangements never really deviate from the traditional pop song approach. However, their music sometimes feels too disposable, almost as if it isn’t real. At first, this aspect is interesting but eventually it becomes a little tiresome and it would be more encouraging to hear something with more substance.

As first albums go, The Drums have created a piece of work which demonstrates great promise and, although they are by no means the finished article, one can expect further development and additional releases from the band.

Release Date – 7th June 2010 on Moshi Moshi/Island

words by Rob Pollard                                                                photography by Sam Ellis

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Posted in: Music