The Drums – The Drums (album review)

It seems like ages since I’ve been listening to some of the songs on this debut album by The Drums, and really, that’s probably true. The group dropped a variation on the same EP sometime in 2009 and their self-titled full-length arrived in most of the world earlier this year. Nearly half the songs on the full-length had already been released elsewhere, and yet it’s nice to finally have them all in one place (along with some more standouts).

I held out on buying the release earlier this year, as I hoped it would have a few bonus tracks. My hopes were piqued a bit a couple months ago, when it was stated that such would be the case, but the tracklisting is out and it’s the same as it’s ever been (sadly, “I’m Felt Stupid” still isn’t included).

C’est la vie, though. This 12-song, 43 minute album is still one of my favorites from the past 12 months or so. The group has drawn a load of hype, and in doing so has inevitably drawn many comparisons (Franz Ferdinand! Joy Division gone happy! etc!). While there are certainly echoes of a lot of different groups in their songs, the true charm of the album is the way that it brings them all together into something just different enough that it feels fresh.

Because just about every song on the release is laser-sighted on pop goodness, it’s hard to pick favorites, but if my arm was being twisted behind my back, I’d probably put “Me And The Moon” near the top. With repetitive, muffled drums banging out an incessant beat, a dry, repeated guitar melody soars over a gurgling synth bass, it sounds like it could have plopped down in the 80s sometimes, and Jonathan Pierce’s high, crooning vocals certainly don’t take it out of the era.

“Me And The Moon” – The Drums

A lot of cuts on the release have the same building blocks, and “It’ll All End In Tears” is another perfect example, mixing some tinny bass guitar, synth, and more chiming guitars with low-fi drums and filtered vocals by Pierce. It sounds a little new wave and a little post punk, but like the best work of the group it refracts their sound just enough to set it apart.

“It Will All End In Tears” – The Drums

Supposedly a large portion of this album was recorded in a bedroom on a less-than-optimal setup, and that shows in the recording. Considering the music itself, it almost seems logical that the release be an over-produced, glossed-up number full of overcompressed mastering and razor-sharp modern production, but that’s about the furthest thing from the truth. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and that’s honestly part of the charm. The summer rays might be dying away even as I type these words, but if you didn’t check it out in the spring, don’t sleep on this album.

(buy The Drums from amazon.com)

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