The Drums :: Portamento

TheDrums-PortamentoA gradual slide from one note to another, this theme is captured on The Drums’ second album with a seamless shift from one song to another. With no immediate single, a common trend of sophomore albums, you may find Portamento flowing a little too well, and the songs begin to sound the same. A serious session through headphones is needed to bring out the deeper lyrically content and earnest that makes this album a winner.

After moving from a major label the critic-favoured track ‘Money’ tells of the woes of being too broke to buy your baby something nice. Benjy Eisen of Rolling Stone calls this track “coming to terms with their lack of success”. Portamento maybe classified as Brooklyn Scenester crap by NME, but the emotions relayed on this album and issues addressed such as death, depression and not having any cash are conveyed with such genuine elegance its hard to just right it off. You relate, even if you don’t want to.

The beats keep it beach bumming and smiling, while the lyrics are dark and lonely; something in common with influence Brian Wilson, who wrote catchy tunes on a piano in a sand box while slowly losing his mind. So I suppose feeling alone and losing touch with those around you goes very well with the california sun and surf. The boys seemed to have shelved the “goin’ surfing” gimmick these day, as well as the overly glossy sound and it’s paid off. Dropping from a major label you lose some production quality but gain some soul and honest, uncluttered insight into Jonathan Pierce’s teenage mind.

The lyrics were written ten years ago and his teenage angst is held gracefully intact, although some of the darker components maybe coming from the devastating walk out of guitarist Adam Kessler. The bare bones guitar riffs may sound a little lonely but it worked for The Pastels and the album as a whole really captures a C-86 vibe. The biggest let down with The Drums’ second album is the amount of filler songs, undoubtedly due to rushed release a mere 14 months after their self-titled debut. Pierce ends on a high note with ‘How It Ended’, leaving the listener hoping that album three will be carefully crafted, well thought out and slow cooked, because at the end of the day Jonathan Pierce can really write a damn good pop song.

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