Album Review- The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts

By Nicola Roy (@circaslaves)

What was once a four-piece surf-rock outfit from New York, is now essentially a solo project from front-man Jonny Pierce – although what it lacks in former members, it more than makes up for in raw and gritty song-writing talent. Abysmal Thoughts is the fourth studio album from The Drums, the follow-up to Encyclopedia of 2014. To many people, mention of The Drums brings to mind nostalgic summer staple tracks such as Let’s Go Surfing, which raises the question- why would fans of those kind of feel-good vibes want to approach an album with such a name as Abysmal Thoughts? The trick is to not let the title put you off: yes, the songwriting in this album covers many difficult topics such as sexuality and despair, but with a quirky edge similar to that of Joy Division and The Smiths, it’s not only easy to listen to but extremely thought-provoking as well.

Opening track Mirror is smooth and echoey to start with, but after the chorus kicks in (accompanied by ethereal female backing vocals), a steady-building drum beat builds up and leads to a manic drop with synths flying around in the background. Ending as minimalistic as it began, the final synths blend in seamlessly with the following track, I’ll Fight For Your Life – an upbeat track with lyrics that illustrate the carefree and reckless side of love: ‘We barely made it out alive / and now we’re on a train tonight / a different city, a different life / will it ever feel right?

However, not every track about love is an uplifting one. Head of the Horse is arguably one of the most poignant and memorable tracks on the album, as it is here that Pierce tells the story of his difficulties growing up gay, which, with pastors for parents, was obviously not the easiest. Although it has a chilled-out beat and smooth falsetto vocals, lyrically it’s heartbreaking: ‘Your sister got married fourteen times / But if you fall in love, son; that’s a crime / Well, I fell in love and told him I was happy / My dad hugged me and said this would be the last hug‘. It’s difficult to turn such a sad topic into a happy-sounding song, but Pierce has the ability to turn previous pain into something meaningful and great.

More highlights of this album include Blood Under My Belt, the lead single- at first listen, clear Joy Division influences can be heard, especially with a beat almost identical to Disorder. This, combined with short and desperate lyrics about death and love, makes it also comparable to the likes of The Smiths, but with The Drums’ own breezy spin put on it. Pierce’s signature falsetto vocals in Heart Basel are also reminiscent of Morrissey’s, and his style of telling tales of heartbreak layered over an otherwise happy-sounding track is extremely clever and makes each listen different to the last.

Although this album was mainly based off unfortunate events, The Drums has crafted a well-put-together collection of stories: granted, not all of them happy, but this will make for a perfect summer album nonetheless.







by Rory McArthur@RoryMeep

19th May will see surf-rock outfit Wavves release their sixth record, You’re Welcome. Their previous album, V, was a pretty solid effort, providing everything we’ve come to expect from the band over the years, but lacked any real standout tracks, perhaps with the exception of My Head Hurts. What we’ve already heard from its follow up hints at no new ground being broken, but both Daisy and the title track provide upbeat, fuzz-laden jolts of energy that are sure to please most fans of Nathan Williams and co.

Their latest offering, Animal, is no different, but this time around, the Wavves formula is perhaps getting a little tired, producing what is likely to be a filler track within the records 12 songs. “The whole world, covered in gasolineis exactly the kind of gloomy lyrical content Williams has been writing for years, and although it creates a pretty catchy hook, leaves you with a niggling sense that the band could be pushing themselves a little more. Williams delivers his vocals with his trademark lazy yell, but to his credit, it remains as endearing as ever, with the higher pitched backing vocals conjuring up the kind of summery feel that marks much of the band’s output.

Glitchy production on the drums provides a little variation to the instrumentation, with the pre-chorus sections recalling a lite version of the latest FIDLAR record in this respect. The guitars are as driving and fuzzy as ever, but as with the lyrics, give off a sense of familiarity that is both underwhelming yet enjoyable. In fact, the track provides little instrumentation wise to discuss at all, with it being fairly standard garage rock fare in the vein of bands such as Cloud Nothings that, although nothing to write home about, is perfectly suited to the vibe Wavves seem to be going for.

This is by no means a poor track, but if you’re looking for any kind of meaningful progression or variation from Wavves, you’re going to be disappointed. Prior fans of the band will find plenty to enjoy here, but new listeners would be best served to check out King of the Beach or Afraid of Heights before this new material. As such, the three tracks released from You’re Welcome so far give the impression that the forthcoming record will be more of the same from the band, but will serve as a perfectly serviceable summer garage rock soundtrack. Is there anything wrong with this? Not at all, but at least a little differentiation would do wonders for the band’s discography.