The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts
Indie pop darlings The Drums have a habit of losing their bandmates. Following the departure of founding member Jacob Graham, The Drums are now a one-man band in the form of frontman Jonny Pierce. Abysmal Thoughts, their fourth album on as many labels, sees Pierce in full control, writing and recording the entire album in his apartment over the space of about 15 months. The result, unsurprisingly, is a deeply personal record that explores themes of love and loss through the eyes of someone unsure about his place in the world.
Opening track Mirror sets the tone for the album; a deceptively upbeat pop tune chock-full of instantaneous hooks and introspective lyrics. The punchy drum loops and angular guitar work create a stuttering backdrop drawn from 80s post punk, while the sleek vocals create a beguiling focal point that invites you to question the very purpose of your existence with surprising cheerfulness.
In the press release accompanying the album, Pierce describes creating the album as one "longrunning therapy session". In working through the chaos, he not only achieves moments of clarity but also crafts some of The Drums’ finest songs to date. On the title track, Pierce channels Paul Simon and layers his vocals in a cascade of countermelody, singing ‘Abysmal thoughts / Pushing me down to the ground’ before repeating a refrain of ‘Abysmal, abysmal, abysmal’ that wouldn’t feel out of place on Graceland. Never has an existential crisis sounded so catchy.
Abysmal Thoughts feels much more like The Drums we knew on Portamento. The stripped back production and poppy songwriting are likely to be a welcome return to form if 2014's Encyclopedia felt like an experiment that didn’t quite yield the results you were hoping for. The overall charm is undeniable, even if it does feel very familiar.
Listen to: Mirror, Abysmal Thoughts, Blood Under My Belt