They might be just 18 months old (as a band – they’re not toddlers, despite their babyfaces), but this self-titled debut album from The Drums has felt a long time coming. It’s been a whole six months, or a third of their life, since they were shortlisted for the BBC Sound Of 2010 award but there have been just a few spectacular gigs to tease and whet our appetite since, and the only recordings to tide us over have been a couple of singles and an EP, released last September. So now it’s D-Day, and all eyes, and ears, are on the New York four-piece to see if they can live up to the hype.
Their look matches their fledgling band status. Clean-cut, with razor-sharp jaw lines, they look straight out of American Apparel – or “like four rent boys”, according to signed-up fan Boy George. Their sound, likewise, is carefree and full of exhilarating, youthful energy, taking inspiration from some of the most memorable hormone-frenzied bands of yore. The Smiths get a look in (Morrissey has returned the favour, having been spotted propping up the bar at one of their gigs), along with a host of New Wave favourites – the lazy strings of Psychedelic Furs, the lustiness of Echo And The Bunnymen and, most noticeably, the intense yelping of The Cure‘s Robert Smith. Other eras creep into the mould – the garage rock of The Strokes, the art rock of Franz Ferdinand, the catchy doo-wop of Phil Spector and the surfy choruses of The Beach Boys.
They channel the ‘newness’ and freshness of these bands; it’s this unashamed adolescence that has given them such mass appeal. Their lyrics speak of being lovesick, pining for girls…and wanting to go surfing. Last year’s breakthrough single, Let’s Go Surfing is a perfect case in point – “Oh mamma, I wanna go surfing, oh mamma, I don’t care about nothing,” singer Jonathan Pierce pleads over the top of jagged basslines. Taken from EP Summertime!, it’s the basis for the rest of the album, and is closely backed by more recent single Best Friend, a tale of a young, dead friend. Similarly angular with poking, electronic hooks, it feels almost as though, despite the less than subtle references, they’re electro pioneers, experimenting with blips, beeps and synths for the first time, doing it for the sake of making new noises. It might be overly synthetic for some, but there’s an overriding simplicity that makes them more charming than try-hard. In the manner of K and Sarah Records, that simplicity is what makes them.
Other highlights include the bass-heavy down-beat tale of fading love, It Will All End In Tears, Book Of Stories which is destined to soundtrack the end of the night at many an indie disco, and the homage to noughties indie rock, Me And The Moon.
Like Vampire Weekend‘s debut, all the tracks are immediate but they run the risk of running before they can walk, wearing thin and growing tired because there’s nothing to unearth on the 100th, or even the 10th listen. But, taken at face value, they’re riding well above their own wave of hype – expect to hear this record everywhere this summer.