Review: Natalie Salvo
The Drums are a young band from New York City who – like The Strokes before them – received a lot of hype very early on. But as their debut EP, Summertime! And now eponymous debut album have proved, this indie pop quartet are more about basking in the sunlit glow of a California beach than being inspired by yellow cabs or shopping on fifth avenue.
The guys ooze retro cool and like Peter Hook’s bass playing in Joy Division and New Order, their sound makes an immediate impact gaining your attention quickly with its old-yet-fresh style. But it seems this quality is also the group’s pitfall because when spread out over 12 songs, it becomes too repetitively simple and the buzz does tend to wear off a little. Like summer itself, you miss it when it’s gone but after enough humid 40+ degree days you can’t wait for winter or at the very least, autumn.
“Best Friend” combines pure catchiness with some interesting atmospherics including tinny guitars and virtually no bass. The result is the most upbeat track to ever feature lyrics like, “You’re my best friend and then you died”.
“Me and the Moon” is all about the eighties in spades and it really could’ve featured in a montage in The Breakfast Club film. Big single, “Let’s Go Surfing” meanwhile, is a deep wave party and whistling frenzy that is all breezy wipe-outs meets Peter, Bjorn and John. With lots of sunshine, ice-creams and lolling about on a particularly balmy evening, it’s easy to see why this has proved so popular.
Elsewhere there are Beach Boy harmonies (“We Tried”) and light and fluttering synths (“Skippin’ Town”). At times the “four best friends” seem to be taking inspiration from the bubblegum pop and ballads of the fifties (think of that slow dance sequence in Grease) while at other times its more sixties jukebox or Happy Days where you could almost see the guys lugging around a tea chest bass. The other key influence is of course the eighties, whether it’s mainstream twee pop and big hair or the Smiths-like lyrical pessimism boosted by driving guitar hooks. It seems all the bases are well and trully covered, and it should come as no surprise that Jonathan Pierce (vocals) and Jacob Graham (guitar) bonded over the Mancurian group’s masterpieces.
With fistfuls of energy and every “hit single” trick card pulled out and used to their advantage (e.g. handclaps, harmonies and reverb), The Drums have produced 12 gleaming, indie pop tomes full of watery reverb that talk about sorrow but sound like joy. Gorgeously slick, it’s one solid debut that is equal parts wonderful and wearisome.