REVIEW: The Drums – “Portamento”

The Drums / Portamento / Moshi Moshi

“Every single song I sing is about you, and you walk away”. If the moniker of The Drums didn’t seem familiar, one would probably think the songwriting was a bit lethargic. But in this case, that’s the Brooklyn trio’s niche; it’s the warmth behind their new wave revival train and The Drums’ second disc, Portamento, is full of it. Nearly fifteen months after the release of their debut, the sophomore try still conveys that same attitude: I’m not cool, I’m not trying to be cool and hopefully you don’t mind my honesty. The way Jonathan Pierce and co. reiterate that is through their natural attempt to be experimental. When things are basic, bass rips and infatuating vocals echo (“Days”, “What You Were”), clipping a particularly addictive sound onto your ears that sifts the melodic swagger of The Strokes with the romanticism of Seventeen Seconds-age post punk.

The latter, which didn’t glisten as much on The Drums’ self-titled release, is deeply rooted into Portamento. Instead of standing for youthful charm (“I Don’t Know How To Love”) for a full 45 minutes, the album embraces a darker perspective concentrated on isolation and self-evaluation from a teenage standpoint. The synthwork is hostile (“If He Likes It Let Him Do It”), the melodies seem more coaxed by inflicting confusion (“Searching For Heaven”) and Pierce awkwardly finds a home in being irregular (“I Need A Doctor”). Portamento’s latter half may be a weird one-time trip down the rabbit hole, but don’t let it derail what to expect. When The Drums add that catchy guitar pop and subtract the useless revival schemes, the end result is a bunch of a throwback grooves that become a fixation. If all else fails, at least they know how to turn old photographs into heart-stirring vinyl art.

Download: “Days”, “What You Were”


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