The Drums, Portamento
“I believe that when we die, we die,” sings Jonathan Pierce on “Book of Revelations,” the opening cut of this Brooklyn indie band’s second album. Given that Pierce is an ex-born-again Christian, and that the Drums have often hid behind stylistic readymades (the video for early single “Down By the Water” was an exact recreation of a Shangri-Las’ performance on mid-’60s teen show Shindig! right down to the time code), such frankness comes as a revelation indeed.
This is not to say that these post-punk/surf-pop revivalists have shelved their Factory Records 7-inches and started freaking folk. Aside from the Wendy Carlos-esque synth ballad “Searching for Heaven,” every track still whizzes by at a caffeinated pace; trebly guitars click-clack on a trans-American express to the heart of the unabashedly antiquated anorak-clad Anglophile. But now the poetry is similarly straightforward. “I wanna buy you something but I don’t have any money,” yelps the chorus of “Money,” a single that coalesces everything great about the Drums’ buzzy 2010 debut and makes it better. “You’re hard to love,” Pierce exclaims, and then with the very next refrain concedes, “I Don’t Know How to Love.” To be sure, this is music borne of frustration. But even if they’re as prone to hammering their thumbs in real life as their lyrics suggest, the Drums hit the nail on the head here time after time.