Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Drums - Portamento (2011)

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After the departure of guitarist Adam Kessler, The Drums didn't really see themselves recording a new album and yet that's exactly what happened. Inspired by feelings of disappointment and betrayal, the band wrote "What You Were" and the rest is history.

On Portamento, The Drums employ a heart on your sleeve approach that certainly ups the ante from their kinda-sad-but-still-kind-of-fun self-titled debut. And yet the band sticks to its strengths: a surf pop band first and foremost, the trademark beach-y jangle is always there in some form or another even as the band adds in synthesizers and samples. Even with these rather foreign elements, the band integrates them into their trademark style rather than a complete overhaul.

Even with its graduation to more mature themes, Portamento still contains a similar if not congruent form of poppy goodness that The Drums are known for. Failure, heartbreak, and lust are but a few of the themes explored on the album but aren't handled as deftly as they could be. When Portamento really shines is those moments where the composition doesn't take a backseat to the songwriting. The band is certainly skilled and it's nice to see that every once in awhile like "Money" and "I Need a Doctor". Proving that they can write songs with substance, The Drums' next challenge is to balance substance with delivery.

The album is now streaming in its entirely (albeit not in proper track order) at the New York Times website. Give it a listen here.

Portamento is out September 6th in the US.

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