Written By: Andrew Sedo
The Drums return to form using their alluringly formulaic talents to create music that’s both intellectually stirring and delightfully playable. The New York quartet’s 4th full length “Abysmal Thoughts” mixes elements of 80’s synth-pop with the relatable darker aspects of cult groups like The Smiths, The Cure, and The Wake in a style that is polished yet unique. Together, the group has coalesced behind an increased focus on glimmering production absent from their previous efforts.
The silver bullet is the catchy lead single “Blood Under My Belt” which features an excellent pop chorus belying darker subject matter. Lead singer/songwriter Jonny Pierce captures a common sentiment in an equally contrite and profound fashion with the chorus “What does it take, for you to believe that I have changed? / I know very well, that I have blood under my belt” simultaneously acknowledging past misdeeds, an ability to realize self-growth, and an understanding of the other party’s right to question the truth of his change. These themes continue throughout “Abysmal Thoughts” as glitzy guitar tracks, and throwback breakbeat drums form a sort of sonic black comedy.
Pierce’s songwriting is confident in his new surroundings and able to convey the duality of the nature of love. On “Heart Basel” he sings, almost cheerfully, “Please call me and tell me that you want me / ‘Cause right now my life is getting pretty ugly / And I wanna share a cigarette and I wanna go dancing in the rain” in a sentence that may well summarize the whole album. However, The Drums also show the ability to tackle a wide variety of other subjects with the same tact as the standard love unrequited.
On “Shoot the Sun Down” the group effortlessly and singularly summarizes the desires of anyone who has ever dealt with an extremely debilitating hangover. “Are U Fucked” sets the scene of a post-modern house party where there’s really nothing to talk about except how gone everyone is, wants to be, and likely will be soon. Then there’s the oddly beautiful “Rich Kids” featuring the profoundly simplistic yet, (especially in today’s bifurcated USA) poignant chorus “Rich kids, you make me sick kids / A bunch of dickheads / Rich kids, you don’t give two shits / You make me slit wrists”, which perfectly describes the rising feelings of an increasingly socialist youth eschewing traditionally materialistic pursuits.
On “Abysmal Thoughts” The Drums show how reverence moves beyond imitation. The lyrics are simple, and powerful. The riffs are familiar and new. The production is futuristic and retrograde. You can sing along while crying, or scream out loud while dancing. The Drums hit you right in the chest, and you have no choice but to feel something.