Maybe because it was Labor Day weekend and suddenly I was trying to recapture a summer that had slipped through my fingers, or maybe I saw the cover photo of the EP and was caught by the nostalgic primary colors. Either way, I discovered The Drums and have been living a vicariously endless summer ever since. Summertime!, the Drums' debut recording (just released in August), has been on repeat on my ipod for the past few weeks, so when I heard they were playing at the Mercury Lounge last Tuesday for their only night in the US between tours of the U.K. and Europe, I headed there to see the live performance, which, if Boy George is to be believed, is "joyous... kind of quite joyous." Unfortunately, it seemed like the word was out among the hipsters; I arrived to find a sold out show. I should have known, because based on the music I've heard, The Drums are really pretty great.
While it's true that The Drums sound like the love child of the Beach Boys and Frankie Vallee, adopted by Joy Division and raised in Brooklyn on a diet of Smiths records, I'm kind of getting tired of people explaining bands biologically, and describing them in terms of other bands. And yet how else do you describe a group with that grinding guitar beat that makes you want to grab your swimsuit and chase waves, lyrics that recall the 50s sung with the poetic angst of an 80s glam rocker, and tunes that stick in your head for days? Everyone is quoting how they set out to sound like The Wake, but there is definitely some Orange Juice, some Flock of Seagulls, and a pinch of The Ramones added to a sure foundation of the aforementioned musical influences.
The first track, Saddest Summer Ever, plunks you down into the frenzy of a teenage summer break filled with dancing, running around, and figuring things out as July fireworks explode overhead. Waves, whistling, and a tune that you can't stop singing along to is Let's Go Surfing, and Make You Mine would sound perfect playing on the jukebox in a crab shack by the boardwalk. Don't Be A Jerk, Jonny evokes a scene from a cheesy 80s teen movie, Submarine is just a fantastic song, and Down By the Water is the torch song of the sensitive surfer with a broken heart--gorgeous and sad. A little too sad to be the last song on the record, though. While I'm having a hard time finding any fault with Summertime! I have to admit I would have chosen a more upbeat song to close out with. Then again, you'll be playing it on repeat too, so it doesn't even matter. Here's to an endless summer!
The Drums are, in their own words: Jonathan Pierce - The Singin', Jacob Graham - The Stringin', Adam Kessler - The Twangin', Connor Hanwick - The Bangin.' Hopefully I can catch them next time they are in town.