07.04.2010, Words by Charlie Jones

The Drums

Named after the instrument synonymous with every band Brooklyn rock quartet, THE DRUMS play like a beating heart. Simple, effective and as strong as a fist.

In mid-2009 the 50s inspired musical endeavour was born. Hailed in 2009 as the ‘ones to watch’ by every blog and music aficionado, The Drums (we interviewed them here) came fifth in BBC’s Sound of 2010 list, and if that wasn’t overwhelming enough earlier in the year vocalist Jonathan Pierce publicly declared that live shows “bore the shit out of” him. So, with this, their first of six sold-out UK shows, my expectations are understandably a tad dubious.

This is shortlived. On stage The Drums are more than a musical outfit. They’re a performance piece in which every member falls to the mercy of the energy and spirit of the live spectacle; all inhibitions are completely lost. Non-fussed in their approach to both the lyrics and the music; every song, constructed around the three-minute ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-end’, offer instant gratification with catchy hooks and a straight-to-the point libretto. They sing about love, despair and death yet juxtapose these sentiments with the use of intelligible words and sunny music. During the vulnerable Submarine and the upbeat I Felt So Stupid the Brooklynites wear their hearts on their sleeves. Their non-convoluted approach is naive yet completely sincere.

Although quite awkward in their mannerisms the four-piece fit quite nicely up on that small stage; vocalist Pierce bellows down the microphone while happily indulging in his trade-mark jerky, spasmodic dance moves that are angular in style. Guitarist Jacob Graham plays like a mini-hurricane; bouncing about the stage; spinning back and forth tambourine in hand. They’re instinctive, lost in their creation and completely self-unaware.

Song Bestfriend is a kind of clumsy song about mourning the death of a friend. It’s no poignant poem. Instead it gets right to the point. Blunt as a knife yet as sweet as a cherry pie. Love song Make You Mine plays like a school-girl crush, its diary-like lyrics combining teenage angst, self-consciousness (“When I open my mouth I always sound so stupid”) and lust with whistling and hand-claps.

Before jumping off stage the boys closed with first single Let’s Go Surfing a song which ironically is not about surfing at all. The boys admit to knowing little about surf culture, referencing its lyrics to being carefree and the current political climate in America.

Their synth-laced tunes are reminiscent of bands such as New Order and Joy Division while their heartbreaking teen melodramatic themes reference 60s Pop groups The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. Their EP is good but their live show is better. The Drums are bookish types that make fast-uptight Rock N Roll songs with 60s pop inflexions. Their vivid on-stage presence, wild yet refined, further justifies just what all the fuss is really about. They are the ultimate ‘generation me’ Rock band creating music only for themselves and they are damn lucky the rest of us share their passion.

Read Ruth’s interview with the band (HERE). It’s reet good, I think you will agree.

Photo by Felicity Ieraci

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