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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 8, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 41
The Drums' intense performance conquers muddy sound
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The Drums' intense performance conquers muddy sound

by Jessica Price - SGN Contributing Writer

The Drums
October 4
Neumos


I'm feeling a little conflicted about how to approach a review of The Drums' appearance at Neumos last weekend. To say anything disparaging about four adorably sunny boys who met at summer camp and perform shimmering songs with titles like 'Let's Go Surfing' would be almost heartless - almost. I'll save the criticism for a moment, and concentrate on the good.

The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Florida band came out swinging, playing their self-titled debut album almost in its entirety. The four scruffy hopefuls wasted no time launching into 'Best Friend,' 'Skippin' Town,' and 'Me and The Moon' as if on some kind of crazed, youthful adrenaline high. Vocalist Jonathan Pierce - in rolled-up jeans, high-top sneakers, and a red satin '80s jacket - could be a genetic mutation of Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, only adopting obvious Morrissey affectations with every other gesture (not exactly a bad thing). Stylistically, the band rides the line between Sixteen Candles and The Outsiders; one guitarist even sporting some saddle shoe oxfords. To their credit, the three core members (Pierce, guitarist Jacob Graham, drummer Connor Hanwick) have written a near-perfect guitar pop record steeped in nostalgia but also disarmingly memorable. 'Let's Go Surfing' is the kind of song that instantly sticks in your brain for weeks on end, and it was gratifying to see it performed live if only to scratch that itch.

'It Will All End In Tears' and 'Book of Stories' sagged a bit, as if the boys expended a little too much energy attempting to do the twist right out of the gate. The sound was muddy - annoying, considering the pristine clarity of the album. The trademark whistling parts were all pre-recorded, as were keyboards, leaving me wishing The Drums had tried harder to inventively translate the whistles and flourishes - perhaps with additional guitar parts. Creative deviation from studio recordings is often what makes a good band into a phenomenal live one.

However, The Drums delivered nonstop album hits (including 'Down by the Water'), flirted with the pretty young audience, and their manic pop star energy waned only briefly. It's hard to breathe easy when you're one of the fastest-rising indie bands of 2010 (Pitchfork's 2009 Readers' Poll voted them 'Best Hope for 2010,' and they've been NME darlings in the UK for the past year). If The Drums can parlay that energy into their next album and stretch themselves live, they'll leave the hype in tatters and create something truly surprising.

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