Welcome to The Verge: a column dedicated to music on the edge of a breakthrough. For the record, I swear I’m not just copying this stuff from the BBC Sound of polls.
I really don’t want to the like the Drums. The last decade’s most regrettable alliteration is “Brooklyn blog buzz band.” Since the Strokes burst onto the scene, everyone has been on the lookout for four or five hipsters playing throwback tunes with a blasé attitude. When a new one arrives from that ever trendy borough, everyone is enthralled for the requisite 15 minutes, before discarding the band and moving onto the next one.
Are the Drums any different? On first glance, maybe not. They crib from the same post-punk and new wave standards as countless other Pitchfork-approved bands. Their videos even reach for the affected quirkiness of those of OK Go. So why bother?
Throughout their self-tited debut (released Tuesday), the Drums knock out relentlessly catchy, memorable songs, separating themselves from their peers. Jonathan Pierce’s vocals and lyrics are darkly romantic, owing much to Morrissey and the Smiths, especially on a crooner like “I Need Fun in My Life.” The album even kicks off with a Moz-like refrain: “You were my best friend / and then you died.”
Reverb-heavy guitars and bouncing bass lines are met with beats right out of the Joy Division playbook (except for those on “Me and the moon,” which I’m sure is an A-ha sample). Their influences are worn so firmly on their sleeves that I can’t imagine the band takes themselves too seriously. They aren’t Vampire Weekend, pretending they invented their style, but they aren’t She Wants Revenge either, ripping off 80s sounds in tongue-in-cheek fashion. Instead, the Drums present a pastiche that combines some of the best elements of familiar genres, without pretension.
And it’s fun summer music. I can see crowds bouncing and swaying along to these songs at outdoor concerts. Even a down-tempo ballad like “Down by the water” fills an essential role, providing the album’s lighters-in-the-air moment. But make no mistake, these songs are deceptively well-written, even if all they ask of the listener is to join them for a dip in familiar seas.