The Drums – Portamento
September 11, 2011
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The Drums have recently been streaming their new album Portamento online and it will be released for purchase soon. It has been little more than a year since their self-titled debut was released to critical and commercial acclaim; Let’s Go Surfing and its whistled hook was one of the most infectious tunes of last year that didn’t get brutally overplayed. The Drums’ debut album was one that just kept giving, a truly soulful and beautiful lyrical work; matched by upbeat melodies giving the impression of blend joyful music contrasted by sad content. Portamento is very much a continuation of this very Smiths-esque theme. The band’s first album took me a long time to really appreciate, and it was only when I forced myself to listen to it before their show did I realize its depth. It is simply an album that just keeps giving, the deep bass and hypnotic drums, backed by strained and emotional lyrics enticing me over and over. I feel that Portamento is an even more complex expression of pain; backed by a musical growth that comes with the experience of critical and commercial success.
On the first single Money lead singer Jonathan Pierce croons lamenting his lack of money with which he would be able buy his love ‘something.’ This is a charmingly honest display of humble love and the up tempo bass and subtle drums reinforce the simplicity of his desire. The Drums have made greater use of synthesizer on this record, showing that their influence extended beyond Joy Division, but probably only as far as New Order. Hard to Love is another highlight, featuring a synth line and the strained lyrics “I will never hate you but you’re hard to love.” Pierce’s voice is intoxicating; his scat like interludes between lyrics added another whole dimension to the album. It is a melancholic groan, as if he is looking at the window at the world quickly passing by, wishing he was there too.
I have had a hard time pinning down exactly how I feel about this album; and I have come to the conclusion that its separate compontents come together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. That is, there is no stand out track and it is immensely more enjoyable if listened to as a whole album. Portamento has a level of experience expected with a second album yet the simplistic beauty of something unspoiled by over-work. It is an organic album that flows in a way few albums do; exposing emotion and musical variation equally; engaging the listener in a unique way. The Drums have delivered another complex album that will continue to absorb and transfix the listener well beyond the initial plays.
For a band I quickly dismissed as indie shit after hearing their first single sometime last year, I took the time to see them play live and from that I have developed a real love for their happy-yet-really-sad sound. I must eat my words and admit this group make music really worth my time. I highly recommend this album.