The curtain rises and “the most contagiously energetic New York band of the last decade” appears. Yep, it’s been almost ten years since “Is This It?” came out and, except for examples like Vampire Weekend, one has to agree with this quote from NME because nobody has known how to distil the magic recipe of The Strokes as tremendously effectively as The Drums. Apart from the suggestive comment about these two reflecting bands (from whom they take up the basic pattern of eternally fresh pop), the quote from the British weekly is relevant because The Drums are proud of being the typically anti-Brooklyn band and the truth is, they are right: they are the most British band to arise in American music lately. With this project, Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham, besides providing impeccable melodies and contagious choruses, have known how to digest the intermittency of the more coquettish heart of the new-wave from the other side of the ocean like nobody else has. What they do is thoroughly trip up the increasingly pronounced psychedelics that they are fed up with, in an allergic reaction against the multifaceted hullabaloo of a musical scene –New York’s– that they are challenging by looking in another direction.
Shooting high-speed pills of power-indie that are more than elastic, juicy, and dynamic, The Drums’s proposal polarises both borders and tastes: or you love them or you hate them. People who can’t stand them will hate them simply and purely because they don’t know how to enjoy pop or because they are eating their hearts out when they hear how wonderful these songs sound. But on the other side, their admirers are a multitude. Among them: celebrities like Debbie Harry, Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, and even Boy George, who our boys joke around and party with. The attraction of all of these people to the way the band plays has been a meteoric, almost instant love at first sight, although they still don’t understand that they are seen as “the coolest thing of the moment” when what they are doing only corresponds to the age-old precepts of pop. They are also right about this. Their recipe doesn’t have anything special, just plenty of talent. Infectious and feverish, very well written and even better put together, their music sounds fleeting, but it installs itself in your cerebellum forever. Essentially, trying to describe it somehow, it is an explosive, hormonal mixture of the sound of The Wake, the jumpy play of guitars of The Embassy, and all the love of The Field Mice.
The whole world already knows the story. Jacob and Jonathan met each other at summer camp when they were little. Soon they discovered what making music was, thanks to Kraftwerk, and after playing in several bands, they got together again in Florida at the end of 2008 to start recording as The Drums. Back in Williamsburg they filled out the group with Adam and Connor, and they started playing like crazy. Since then there has been a media uproar around them similar to that caused in its day by the Arctic Monkeys, a radiant EP in the glove compartment (“Summertime”) and two previous singles like a time-bomb: “I Felt Stupid” and the blazing “Let’s Go Surfing,” a supposed pro-Obama manifesto somewhere between a riff of The Ventures and the tune of Muchachada Nui. Absolutely on the top before their debut came out, they are the favourites on all the Tipped for 2010 lists; today these guys have the world at their feet and their steps are resounding loudly. The LP “The Drums” sounds louder and stronger, maybe even better than what they had recorded so far. It sounds sturdy and powerful, but it also feels melancholy and dejected, like the light of a late Sunday afternoon. To say it somehow, this is one of the few titles that seem very Factory to start with, but which end up revealing themselves to be totally Sarah.
Written with a transparent dexterity that only reinforces their strong points, Jonathan composed almost all of the songs from programmed drums, and always with the idea of suppressing whatever was unnecessary. He wanted his group to sound “super vulnerable,” but to reverse the premise, what has resulted is practically indestructible. Without ever straying from the classic structure of the pop song, even taking pleasure in it with a revelry of claps, whistles, hypersynthetic choruses, and spirited voices, The Drums bathe their songs in a strange euphoria that makes jewels like “Me And The Moon” sound as unforgettable as “Last Night” (Strokes) or “Canada” (Field Mice) the third time you hear them. They also owe a lot to The Smiths, if not before that, then with the video of the irresistible “Forever And Ever, Amen”. Their lyrical, florid longing also slips into “I'll Never Drop My Sword” (so Morrissey beginning with the very title), and the charisma of their adored The Wake can also be heard in the background synthesisers of “The Future” or in the inevitable ballad “Down by the Water”. And in “Skippin’ Town” they jump from brill-building to Orange Juice just like that! Isolated examples, in the end, (there are a thousand in there) to try to explain the unusual freedom with which they handle such a range of references. Everything is done that way, with the self-confidence of the trivial and the enthusiasm of true passion, making it seem like an easy debut even though it isn’t at all. The word is another one: infallible.