In a time in which the zeitgeist of indie music as a whole feels like an almost dystopian wasteland littered with “edgy” twenty-something’s pretending they’re still boisterous year 10’s at their first house party and NME inspired, floppy haired guitar bands being dubbed “the new *insert relevant britpop royalty here*”; perhaps the surprising shining light of 2017 so far has been the comeback. From skinny legged, shoegaze dreamboats The Horrors taking back their former gothic glory with the pounding bass of Machine, to cult heroes The Cribs ever gritty new releases In Your Palace and Years of Hate– our old favourites are far from being washed up, showing bands everywhere not only that it can be done, but also how.
Standalone as ever, The Drums latest release Abysmal Thoughts strays from the approach of its darker older siblings. Clinging to what they’ve always known in their surf-rock inspired melodies, there’s something about this album that feels new, maybe even more lowkey- although not necessarily a fault. A change in sound was to be expected, losing co-founding father Jacob Graham and shifting to the single custody of Jonny Pierce wasn’t going to be easy but, throughout it all, Abysmal Thoughts seems to hold strong as both a development and cooperation with their past. With it’s surf-rock roots remaining consistently strong throughout the album, the catchy guitar riffs and fast, minimalistic drum beats make it easy to see The Drums appeal.
The lead track Blood Under My Belt completely earns its right with the strong sense that it provides us with all that we waited for: gorgeously melodic with Jonny’s vocals deliciously coo-ing their through the track. They melt into the song through a shoegaze worthy reverb heavy chorus- allowing that divine, repeated guitar riff to come into the spotlight. Your Tenderness, however, is another obvious standout track; a shade darker than the rest of the album with its echoing chaos and synths through the verses accompanied by their striking contrast to the emotive, glittering chorus. A clear nod to the influence The Smiths melancholic and bittersweet tendencies that helped to form the sound of The Drums. The track listing following this however is one of confusion; straight after Your Tenderness comes potentially the most upbeat sounding track of the album, Rich Kids. On a first listen, this seems like a potentially poor choice, but reading deeper into its bitter, slightly twisted lyrics involving disengaged parents and slit wrists it perhaps seems more fitting- and truly earn the albums title. The delicate If All We Share (Means Nothing) follows this, providing us with a haunting, and perhaps even vulnerable side to The Drums not previously seen in the days of it being a collaborative project.
Abysmal Thoughts as a whole makes it clear that The Drums haven’t lost their charm, despite losing members along the way. It’s plain to see they’re not giving us anything earth shattering, but instead providing us with the moody-but-oh-so-content-in-being-so sounds that we’ve been missing out on in recent years and well, they’re doing a damn good job of it.
Words by Alice Browne.