While the début effort from [lastfm]The Drums[/lastfm] was equally as coy, literate, and preciously indie-pop Mancunian as Portamento, the “Book of Revelation” shows the dark and weathered sonic spine which The Drums’ self-titled breakthrough album did not posses.
With the first song, the tongue-in-cheek religiously titled “Book of Revelation,” The Drums “let it begin” with a space-age bleep and the shimmy-shake of a tambourine.
Richly-textured with syncopated handclaps, ’60s [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Beach Boys[/lastfm]-styled harmonies, and the steady, even strum of a guitar, “Book of Revelation” could easily fall into some cacophonous black hole of new wave twee, but The Drums manage to resurrect the song from dried-up sentiment with doleful pick-up lines like “I’ve seen the world and there’s no heaven and no hell/and I believe when we die, we die/so let me love you tonight.”
The crashing waves of the Drums’ dark, surf-pop sound are not only tinged with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Morrissey[/lastfm]-esque heartbreak but with the soul stench of suburban pollution.
In “Days,” much like the languishing New Wave/Britpop ballads of the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Smiths[/lastfm], lead singer Jonathan Pierce’s lazy baritone and sleepy falsetto cut through idealistic romanticism with the innate poetry of the working class condition: “And I worked so hard/and I killed myself/and you broke my bones/and I sold my soul.”
“What You Were” and “Money” are decidedly more uptempo, albeit with the same “we’re all going to die, let’s party while we can” sort of lyrics. In fact, the songs could easily be an extension of one another: both “What You Were” and “Money” share a similar beat, bleeding into each other with a cheeky, ’50s-esque boy band tenacity and the dirty lavender gauze of a British morning.
Playing up on the already-established theme of “carrying over” denoted by the term “portamento,” “Hard to Love” and “I Don’t Know How To Love,” adopt a less pop-driven rhythm for some darker-tinged, a rattlesnake of drum rhythm and guitar melody, noisily slithering through the lovelorn topics of rejection, death, and dealing with love “after love.”
Bridging the gap between the ever-present retro sound evident in the Drums’ and something decidedly more modern and macabre, “Searching For Heaven,” builds a lo-fi path over a river of sound, warbled off-kilter lyrics breaking through repetitive sci-fi sounds.
On the search for the ethereal sides of darkness, “Please Don’t Leave” begins with a shoegaze-y revelry of “You told me that the world would end/And I believed you/Because I always do” and the screeching, crying falsetto of Pierce’s voice.
“If He Likes It, Let Him Do It” take a sparse, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Joy Divison[/lastfm]-style stance on the same situation with Pierce singing in a lower, shadowy register, the song awash in minor chords.
By far, the best song off the record is “If I Need A Doctor” with Pierce’s entreaty of “I need a doctor/even though I love you/I don’t wanna kill you.”
Indicative of the artistic melancholy perfected so by the misanthropic hipster lifestyle, The Drums’ Portamento is a perfect summary of the stage of mind of a whole generation.
[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Drums[/lastfm]-Portamento
1. Book Of Revelation
3. What Your Were
5. Hard To Love
6. I Don’t Know How To Love
7. Searching For Heaven
8. Please Don t Leave
9. If He Likes It Let Him Do It
10. I Need A Doctor
11. In The Cold
12. How It Ended