There are those bands that nest their way into your brain just to rear their heads out when the pools are cool and the sun is hot. If I had to choose a theme song for the start of the summer, every time I would pick a The Drums track. They are one of those bands that are unapologetically catchy and moody, who you just never tire of listening to.
My first brush with the band was on their 2009 EP aptly titled, Summertime! Hearing the opening track, “Saddest Summer” was a breath of fresh air and it was then that I was instantly enamored. Over the span of their career, they have slightly changed their tune adding more surf, some R&B at times and more synth at others; some albums hitting hard and maybe one falling a little flat.
Fast forward to three full-lengths later, The Drums have just released their fourth LP Abysmal Thoughts via Anti Records. And let me say I was more than pleasingly surprised throughout the course of this record. Abysmal Thoughts is a lot of things, but it’s definitely not abysmal. It’s extremely personal and autobiographical, stemming from Jonny Pierce’s location/life uproot and change while at the same time wildly alluring and incredibly pop. Abysmal Thoughts is the record that I was waiting for from The Drums and they beyond delivered.
Pierce got full control of this record, writing and playing everything himself. He channeled all the complexities of anxiety, heartbreak and loss into one singular vision, releasing and relieving as he went, which then became Abysmal Thoughts.
It’s a sad record, although it doesn’t sound like one. On the album opener “Mirror” Jonny is literally reflecting on his life, but its glimmery and sunny demeanor disguises the track, as he sings “I look in the mirror when the sun goes down. I ask myself ‘Who are you now?’”
“I’ll Fight For Your Life” and “Blood Under My Belt” pose some early era idyllic Drums vibes with that signature guitar and drum sound. “Heart Basel” has pumping synths and bass with dainty percussion and catchy vocal arrangements. “Shoot The Sun Down” is a mix of Unknown Mortal Orchestra guitar sounds fused with catchy drum machine elements. “Ten years of secrets” is chanted morosely throughout sections of the song illustrating and matching the mood of the track.
“Head of the Horse” is a bittersweet synth-heavy track, dripping with emotions of nostalgia and sentiment. “Under the Ice” has those hand claps that we love so much from the Drums. It’s a ripping synthpop tune that will get stuck in your head and fill you with tears and make you want to move. “Your Tenderness” is definitely one of the standout tracks on Abysmal Thoughts with sax and Theremin-esque sounds floating about.
“Rich Kids” is full of tambourine and jangly guitars that will make you boogie down. The title track “Abysmal Thoughts” encompasses everything that Jonny Pierce has worked so hard for on this record. With whistles and background vocals bouncing around in the foreground while Pierce singing “Abysmal, abysmal, abysmal.”
Abysmal Thoughts, although not about necessarily pleasant things, is an overwhelming pleasant listen. Pierce returns back to the OG Drums roots with delicate and dreamy layering that makes the album a breeze to listen to. Even with Pierce writing and playing everything himself, the album maintains a different feel to each track, making it seem like he had a full backing band bouncing ideas around throughout the record.
This is The Drums that I love and that I’ve been waiting to hear more of. Abysmal Thoughts are for everyone.