New Music
09.09.2009, Words by Ruth Saxelby

The Drums: "We don't like the majority of modern music."

Press releases are funny old things. Their whole raison d‘être calls for news, and in a music context that often means exclamations of “brand new sound”. Always a little naïve, not least because while we’re hurtling towards double figures in 21st century years, our hearts still belong to the previous 50. That’s a whole lot of rich territory to mine, something that NYC-via-Florida band THE DRUMS do with a considered lightness of touch, skipping from the teenage heartache harmonies of THE SHANGRILAS to the joyous post-punk of Factory Records group THE WAKE. All the while looking like clean living kids from the 50s.

Singer Jonathan Pierce grew up in a strict religious household that banned pop music. So it makes sense that they look to the consciousness-shifting 1950s, when the arrival of rock n roll was seen as the ultimate threat to morality. For THE DRUMS, seeking to create “perfect melodies connected to perfect lyrics” is the perfect rebellion.

“We don’t like the majority of modern music, ” says Pierce aptly, over email. Together with best friend and guitarist Jacob Graham (a veteran on the Florida punk scene), Connor Hanwick (drums) and guitarist Adam Kessler (Pierce’s former bandmate in synth-pop group Elkland), they started the band last year after hearing and falling for THE WAKE Pale Spectre. Having initially set out to recreate that sound, what they instead ended up with is a gloriously nostalgia-laced criss-crossing of 50s surf rock melodies, post-punk energy and new wave melodrama. With its hook-heavy whistling refrain, debut single Let’s Go Surfing (listen to it above) is an ode to old school reckless abandon while myspace track Down By The Water channels the lonelier side of the BEACH BOYS. But it’s the soaring happy-sad I Felt Stupid that feels like it could – should – really go places.

There’s something incredibly life-affirming in their retro aesthetics – and in what they aim to capture. “One [feeling] is the end of the first day of summer when you and all of your friends are standing on the edge of a cliff watching the sun set and being overcome with all of your hopes and dreams at once,” says Jonathan. “The other is when you’re walking alone in the rain and realise you will be alone forever.”

Let’s Go Surfing is out on Sept 28th plus check their myspace for UK live dates in Sept/Oct.

The Drums’ myspace

Have a read of our piece on Your Twenties for more decade-raiding pop.

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