Review: The Drums – Portamento

Despite plenty of acclaim there are plenty who dismiss The Drums as being a rather contrived version of certain well-respected indie bands. It’s an accusation which does admittedly fit but some of their tunes on their debut were simply too hard to resist. Barely a year has passed and now The Drums release the follow-up.

Few albums will start as well as ‘Portamento’ this year. ‘Book Of Revelation’ is based on the most infectious and jangly of riffs. Similarly, ‘Money’ hops and skips to a combination of high-pitched vocals and addictive hooks whilst ‘Hard To Love’ gets the most out of a couple of very primitive analog keyboards. However there are also signs that they seem to suffer from a dearth of ideas. ‘Days’ may borrow from the Peter Hook school of bass rumble but the song sounds devoid of ideas and heart and despite fine moments there’s evidence the band are becoming rather formulaic.

Perhaps the way forward is the darker and more adventurous second half to the record. It kicks off with the yearning Kraftwerk-like ‘Searching For Heaven’, which is followed by the trademark jangly but strangely haunting ‘Please Don’t Leave’ and ‘If He Likes It Let Him Do It’. ‘I Need A Doctor’ evokes creepy romance, taken to a state of desperate loneliness for ‘In The Cold’. In fact, the recovery is only stalled by the disappointingly lightweight ‘How It Ended’

Ultimately, ‘Portamento’ is a less satisfying record than their debut but it also deserves credit for escaping the shackles of jangly rock and offering several new directions. Refreshingly, they’ve also found some emotional depth beneath the cool indie disco vibe.

Web Sites:
The Drums Official Site

Further Listening:
Orange Juice, New Order, The Cure

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