Too good looking to be relevant or credit worthy? Too over hyped as the next big thing? Just another NYC band in a sea of 'new' talent? Irrelevant, creatively lack lustre poseurs aboard the current band wagon of choice enjoying a free ride? 'New York's Official Coolest New Band?' Take your pick.
Mixing the often grey, rain rich, industrial and somewhat sombre sensibilities of the North West, courtesy of The Smiths, Joy Division and Factory Records spliced with the rather more sunny disposition imparted by the likes of 50's & 60's surf culture pioneers like Jan & Deen was never going to be any easy task. A stint in the Sunshine State of Florida does not mean you are qualified to take on a remake of the Big Wednesday nor does residency in Brooklyn resemble an upbringing in Moss Side.
As the band have suggested neither and are merely citing references and influences, whilst not trying to invent themselves a new genre, then may be 'Don't believe the hype' and let the music speak. Innocently enough whilst the boys are 'Singin', Stringin', Twangin' and Banging' all they are interested in is "Chasing the perfect pop song" about "The first day of summer, or walking alone in the rain." Ahhhh.
The eponymous debut album starts strongly enough with 'Best Friend'. Jonathan Pierce does his best 'straight' Marc Almond vocal to a Baby Bird sounding resemblance of You're Gorgeous. Add in some Cure esq guitar work and subtle synth treatment and you're already half way towards the 80's Indie dance floor. Mix in some 'Soul Mining' era The The drum beats for 'Me And The Moon' and there's virtually no turning back. Debut single, 'Lets Go Surfing', jolts you out of character momentarily with a fabulously pacey mesmerising bass line. A minimal but very effective guitar, harmonised vocal and difficult to rid your head of whistling hook complete a terrific throwback worthy of the 'Endless Summer'.
'Book Of Stories' brings forth more grandiose synth work and 'Skippin' Town' has another bass line beauty to match the perky jangle of guitars. 'Forever And Ever Amen' rounds off the commercially loaded first half of the twelve track album with its New Order influence pressed home with adoration rather than subdued through lack of confidence.
The second chapter may not hit you as instantly but will probably linger the longest. 'Down By The Water' is drenched in 60's atmosphere, recalling timeless classics such as 'Stand By Me' with the minimal arrangement, emotive vocal and heart tugging imagery. 'It Will All End In Tears' develops the lost love theme, focusing the band in a more angular and confrontational style. 'I Need Fun In My Life' trips along with a jaunty take on melancholy......."the less you own the more freedom you have, so I went home and I threw it all away." The finale is 'The Future' an encapsulation of nearly all that has gone before it. Great bass lines, a skipping beat, some lyrical delights and good solid song writing.
Number 5 in The BBC's sound of 2010 is probably about right for now. They aren't the new Strokes, nor are they throw away pretenders without artistic merit. The Drums debut is a very enjoyable collection of neat tunes. Perhaps through age they will begin to shed the 'Americans trying to sound British' vibe and feel more comfortable in their own skin. There is definitely more, and more of interest, to come from The Drums.