Music

The Drums: The Drums

The Drums’ debut LP plays like an ‘80s time capsule. Unfortunately, the world only needs one Morrissey.


The Drums

The Drums

Label: Downtown
US Release Date: 2010-06-08
UK Release Date: 2010-06-07
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

In many interviews over the last several months, the Drums’ lead singer Jonathan Pierce repeatedly stated that the band’s debut LP would consist of relatively “darker” songs and be more of a “winter album". These statements were presented as a comparison to the band’s debut EP, Summertime! (truth in advertising if it ever existed). So, here we are... it’s summertime again, and guess what? The Drums is melancholic, but not “dark” or “wintery” in the slightest. All things considered, it's another summer album.

Whether that is a good thing or bad thing is up to you, dear listener. Personally, the six crisp, ebullient tracks that comprised Summertime! are all the summer jams I’ll ever need from the Drums. “Let’s Go Surfing” is particularly stunning, the kind of song destined to be an albatross around the band’s neck. Somewhat surprisingly, the band decided to include both “Let’s Go Surfing” and another Summertime! track, “Down By the Water” on The Drums.

The inclusion of those two songs becomes less surprising when you realize they’re the best songs on the album. Of course, the Drums are not the first band (nor will they be the last band) to carry over songs from an EP to prop up a wobbly debut LP. That’s not to say The Drums is without a couple of brand new keepers. “Best Friend” and “Forever and Ever Amen” both channel New Order and the Smiths in such a direct, zealous way that you can’t even criticize the band for being derivative because that is their intention: to gleefully replicate their favorite bands. I’m not saying the Drums owe royalties to Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner, but, at the very least, they should mail out one hell of a thank you card.

The flip-side to the band’s charming Manchester-by-way-of-Florida homages (the band members are natives of the Sunshine State) is that it wears thin pretty quickly. One EP and one LP into their career, the Drums’ sound is already coming dangerously close to schtick. An EP was the perfect length to get your fill without it becoming grating, but The Drums is a slog and a half to get through in one sitting. There is little to no variation in mood, tempo or style. It's infuriatingly repetitive 44 minutes feel twice as long.

The album’s second half suffers from a considerable drop-off in quality after the relatively strong first half. On paper, song titles like “It Will All End in Tears” and “I Need Fun in My Life” look like Morrissey parodies. Unfortunately, they also play that way, but being beholden to their influences isn’t the Drums only problem. Their strict adherence to a puritanical pop template make them seem like luddites at a point in time where bands like Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors and TV on the Radio are flourishing and have become the indie flagbearers. I suppose you could argue that the Drums’ aesthetic is refreshing in some way, but, to my ears, it plays like a tedious time capsule. Listening to a band like the Drums, I can’t help wondering “where are they going with this?” If they have no ambition to be a more original and/or compositionally liberal band, they might as well just kick-start a career as a cover band right now.

5


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.