After releasing two albums in quick succession, The Drums now find themselves reduced to core members Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, so one would have thought ‘Encyclopedia’ would be a more minimalist affair. Not so. They race into their first album like excitable puppies.
Detractors tend to object to The Drums’ fey approach and the problem is cast in another light for opening song ‘Magic Mountain’ where Jonny Pierce’s high-pitched vocals rail against jagged guitars and a drum machine; evoking images of youthful post-punk fans high on ice cream and jelly. Likewise, lightweight affairs ‘Kiss Me Again’ and ‘There Is Nothing Left’ are teenage dreams we don’t need to hear. The Drums are at their best when they slow the pace down and the breathy melancholy of ‘I Can’t Pretend’ is much more like it.
For ‘I Hope Time Doesn’t Change Him’ there’s the essence of 1960’s girl pop; hand claps and helpless romance all present and correct. Urgent burst of guitars and primal electronica usher in the dramatic, exciting ‘Let Me’ where even a childish lyric of “They might hate but I love you. They can go kill themselves” sounds more like a genuine threat rather than a silly outburst. Throw in the glum yet catchy pop of ‘Face Of God’, a swooning ‘Deep In My Heart’, the sinister experimentation of ‘Bell Labs’ or the neatly-arranged vulnerabilia of ‘US National Park’ and ‘Wild Geese’ and we actually have a very good album on our hands.
Critics of The Drums won’t at all be swayed by ‘Encyclopedia’. If anything it’s even less emotionally mature than their previous two albums but their infectious songs demonstrate they are establishing a neat little line in 60’s romance crossed with 80’s indie pop. Moreover, they’re becoming a band who are influencing others rather than the other way round.
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