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Strictly Albums Of The Year: Portamento

Released 2nd September 2011 on Island

Chart Performance: Portamento failed to chart in the UK.

What The Critic’s Said: “The Drums was as sunny as new romance, though; emotionally conflicted and at times misanthropic, Portamento is about finding out that only love can break your heart.” Spin Magazine

The Drums first bounced onto the UK music back at the end of 2009, with their simple surf-rock and uncomplicated indie pop sound. They instantly became NME front cover stars, many formed a dislike to The Drums before listening to any of their music. They released Summer EP and self titled album to mixed reviews, many did not understand The Drums minimal approach blending Orange Juice and Morrisey, but for me personally it was joys of fun itself: catchy, infectious pop melting away the worries.

Front man Jonathan Pierce claimed London understood The Drums first, this opened up many doors around the world for them, and they eventually reaching their homeland. ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ was the huge breakthrough song, even now it is impossible to go to an indie night without a bunch of people presenting themselves to invisible surf boards, riding the fake waves of California. The Drums are based in New York City, they have never been surfing in their lives.

Lyrically The Drums are known for their depressing stories of wanting to be loved, best friends who ‘die’, and heartbreak, Portamento went one step further and went even darker, yet still loaded with the upbeat tempo of surfy guitars, dark bass and tales of angst and romance recorded mostly in Pierce’s apartment.

Portamento opens with the church based song ‘Book Of Revelation’ Johnny let’s rip with all things religious baring his cold heart ”I believe when you die, you die
‘Money’ became the ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ of Portamento, easy could have fitted on the self titled but this time ‘Money’ it’s darker, and not so summery, with repeated chimes of ”I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money” in such a high pitched tone that you can’t help sing back.

Most of the songs on Portamento have some reference to death, especially on ‘Days’ a tale of ‘killing’ himself over a failed relationship, it’s as depressing as The Drums can get. Morrisey should be shaking his spacey fists at the title ‘If He Likes It Let Him Do It’. More cold heart is laid bare during ‘I Need A Doctor’ and ‘Please Don’t Leave Me’ the cold is emotional, the emotion is hard, the guitars and synths are airy.

The Drums may not be suitable for all musical tastes, but for me, it is practically impossible not to spend a day without being uplifted by the depressive air of The Drums. Simone F

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Author: david

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