Album Review: The Drums - Portamento

on Saturday, September 10, 2011
The Drums - 'Portamento' (UK Release: 5 September '11) //
Words: Emily Solan

The Drums are a summer band. Picture them and you’ll get summer sunshine, long lost days and, inevitably, surfing. Cliché full indeed. And new album 'Portamento' does very little to change this outlook. But give them credit they do it ever so well, so why change something that’s not broken?

Opening with the spectacularly pop-tastic 'Book Of Revelation', the segue from first album into second is near seamless. Powering along with a refrain of “I’ve seen the world, there’s no heaven and there’s no hell, and I believe that when we die we die” filling the audience with their beliefs, whilst making them dance at the same time. Drowned in handclaps and what could only be described as a lot of audible pouting from front man Jonathan Pierce, it opens the album with a little ray of sunshine.

'Days' is yet another track that could be shoved in the category 'Outtakes From Album 1: Save For Follow Up', which sadly seems to be the case for a lot of this album. Yes it may be alright to have a signature sound, but a little bit of progression is necessary. The fact that I’m tailing off listening to this after a couple of tracks says it all, sadly. Thankfully 'Money' soon drops after this, with it’s ridiculously catchy chorus of “I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money” sitting as a high point on this album.

'Portamento' is seemingly the darker twin sister to the debut record, containing less religious undertones, more shoving it down your neck, but I’ll forgive them that. Take 'Searching For Heaven' for example, an almost Muse-esque ode, with ridiculously eerie vocals that sit almost at odds with the rest of the album. But moving swiftly on, 'Please Don’t Leave Me' follows as we expect, jingle pop to rival The Smiths, and positively drowned in hand claps. Business as usual then.

Straying further to the electronic side is the swooping 'If He Likes It Let Him Do It'. Coupling a pleading set of Pierce vocals with a much more mysterious sound than a large proportion of the album (and the back catalogue in general), it serves to prove that the boys can do dark and serious, truly a band for all seasons. And I promise that’s not just for the sheer number of winter mentions in the track!

'I Need A Doctor' not only sits on this album as yet another pop anthem in waiting, all shimmering and clap along, but as a little self-indulgent referencing to show the fans, and maybe themselves, how far they’ve come. “That night you put your lipstick on me, I felt stupid so I drank to get dizzy” may be the offending lyric, but fair play to them as it sits as completely relatable to a large proportion of the audience. And that’s not forgetting the simple, yet unforgettable chorus that has been rattling around my head ever since the first listen.

'How It Ended' returns us to where it all began: attention-grabbing sing-along pop songs, plain and simple. Love the band or hate them, you can’t deny they have a knack for writing darn good pop songs. And on 'Portamento', they’ve packaged up those last few days of summer sunshine, put them to record, to give those last few days (or at least some semblance of a summer for Britain), but they’ve also grown into a darker beast, one that makes you really wonder what we’ll see live on their upcoming dates, and perhaps even more exciting, what will turn up on album number 3.


STREAM: The Drums - Book of Revelation

'Portamento' is available to purchase at your local retailer, etc.

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