The Drums have had quite the journey member’s wise. After touring their album Portamento in 2012, Founding member Connor Hanwick left dynamic front-man Jonny Pierce with Jacob Graham to record their next album the riskier electronically influenced Encyclopedia as a duo. 3 years after it’s release, The Drums released Blood Under My Belt, a catchy heart-break anthem alongside the announcement that Jacob Graham had actually left the group a year earlier with Jonny Pierce taking full writing and producing credit for the new album Abysmal Thoughts. By far one of The Drums’ most impressive lead singles, able to have you toe-tapping whilst unknowingly singing along with Pierce’s feelings of regret and somber remembrance.
The second, equally memorable single Heart Basel is a song Pierce had said was about a former boyfriend “treating him “kindly” at Art Basel in Miami and then treating me like garbage after he got what he needed. You live and you sometimes learn.” Pierce has always been able to construct captivating tunes out of seemingly depressing moments giving them a summery new finish. This album isn’t short of The Drums’ usual knack for this quality and to be honest the new material gives me a new found respect for Pierce’s artistry, lyrical ability and frank vulnerability. One thing that is clear however is that Pierce or his new label home ANTI- released the album’ highlights as singles with most of the tracks on the set not reaching the unique brilliance evident on Belt and Basel. That’s not even to say the tracks aren’t engaging and exciting, Under The Ice has the childlike nostalgic flare of songs from The Drums’ Summertime EP whilst I’ll Fight For Your Life has a dark synth backing reminiscent of their Portamento sound with a renewed forceful energy as Pierce sounds defiant singing about keeping a relationship alive.
Through their strengths lay in upbeat shimmy-worthy songs, The tempo slows down slightly on Head of the Horse but the quality doesn’t falter not one bit. The interestingly named Are U Fucked is perhaps the only track I didn’t fall in love with, finding it a bit dreary and drawn out. Your Tenderness and Rich Kids which follow however are excellent. Your Tenderness features a wobbly bassline and beachy instrumentation, also containing one of the most catchy hooks on the album, whilst Rich Kids is another standout. An odd intro albeit, The song’ infectious chorus of “Rich kids, you make me sick kids, A bunch of dickheads. Rich kids, you don’t give two shits. You make me slit wrists” is quite something and tells the story of how rich kids “have nothing” on about a boy Pierce met with “a rusty car”. This is one song that really has me wanting a full on written backstory on the events leading to this tracks’ inspiration as well as deeper introspection on what Pierce thinks of the bourgeoisie.
Ranking as number as no. 2 in my list of their body of works after their self-tilted debut, I believe The Drums is an act as strong and dynamic with Jonny alone as it was previously.
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