One could say that The Drums have made a name for themselves out of simplicity and immediate appeal. Their blend of surf-rock and indie pop is an uncomplicated type of sound aiming both at your heart and at your hips (rock for the dance floors, one could say). This is, in essence, a pretty good formula that has gained the band a lot of fans and praise. But then comes the second album and things start to look a bit different.
Their new release is called Portamento – a musical term for “a gradual slide from one note to another”- and listening to the album you can’t help but to try to understand what direction are Jonathan Pierce and the boys taking as a band. The songs sound a bit “uncooked” and even simplistic, something that might have to do with the leaving of co-guitarist Adam Kessler and the decision made to continue as a trio. Still, and accepting the fact that there’s no big revelation in their sophomore release, songs such as Money (the first single) or Hard Love are perfect indie-pop gems subsisting lyrically on the topic of teen angst and sonically on shaky bass lines and dreamy reverb effects. Things do start to get more interesting when some electronica is explored. In fact, central piece Searching For Heaven comes as a nice surprise, with Pierce laying his aching vocals over an atmospheric instrumental that could have been lifted from the Brian Eno sessions on Bowie’s Low album (stream the song below). Yet, it’s that only moment in the record where you can clearly understand what The Drums might turn into in the future if they don’t get trapped in their formulaic sound of simplicity, repetition and deliberate naivety. (6,5/10)