For their first release on ANTI- one might expect the Drums to play it safe but they push their sound to its apex taking both their classic tones and more out-their maneuvers on this latest release. Going beyond and evolving what works best for them may sound like a no-brainer but does it run them into stale territory?
“Mirror” opens the record with a smoky reverb-laden coolness, whose sharper moments cut through like fire. The sonic drops loosen the whole band and listeners too for an even fuller finale full of shrieking background sound and chants. Leading right into the electronic buzz of “I’ll Fight For Your Life” before bouncing into fast paced racing stream of excitement and joy in every cry.
Falling right into the bones of their repeated Joy Division emulation, “Blood Under My Belt” aches with the classic bass of “Disorder” while bringing a more upbeat feeling overall. The higher feeling and overall soaring emotional weight of the song makes it a strong beast in its own right. Breaking up its groove, “Heart Basel” gives a different take on a similar feel, allowing the band to further a mood while playing with similar melodic concepts.
“Shoot The Sun Down” moves right along to newer territories, finally comfortable in its mix of synths, running bass and wonderfully ugly guitars. Hitting a beautifully serene stride, the band lays out harmonies and vocal melodies that feel comfortable but addictive and the loosely abrasive tones make it all the more exciting. Slowing down on “Head Of The Horse” they push the lyrical and narrative content as they focus on the guitars more and more. Sneaking in a low and high synth line they manage to satisfy every end of the spectrum for a song that fires on all cylinders.
Although hitting a mildly repetitive note by “Under The Ice” their relentless sense of fun and experimentation on these tracks with sound and vocal hooks more than keeps it fresh. Their floating synths lines along with the more open sections of the song make for an ethereal and invigorating song full of life. “Are U Fucked” dims things for a darker crawl with funky percussion and more attitude filled vocals. The effortless pop they sneak in is elevated by the smooth trumpet that closes the track out on a classy note.
Flowing with alien overtones “Your Tenderness” mixes a pop drive with odd and creepy moods, sounding like David Bowie making a track with the Kooks, along with a Theremin by the time the sax comes in. Clearly with no end to their Unknown Pleasures inspiration, “Rick Kids” pulls back to the clear derivation with an overwhelming catchy push that more than redeems its derivative nature.
Taking things completely sideways on “If All We Share (Means Nothing)” crafting a more stripped back vocals and melody focused track that showcases the band’s strengths without their sound on a cool but slightly hollow track. Going out in style “Abysmal Thoughts” is relentless in its barrage of melodies, layering endlessly and throwing in extra energy thanks to some playful whistles.
Moving from inconsistent to sublime and headstrong, The Drums have finally hit a powerful plateau in their writing, one that they hopefully stay on and climb from soon. This intense evolution finds them pulling from greats in exciting ways that rarely feel creatively poor, as their constant electric excitement pushes any song past simple beauty into a palpable wave of joy that anyone can jump on.
Words by Owen Maxwell