The Drums – Encyclopedia Review

The Drums

Three years on from their last studio album Portamento; The Drums have released their third studio album with Encyclopedia which see’s them as a duo again. They’re hardly ones for making friends after all. Frontman Jonny Pierce talked of how some tracks from the album being a reflection of the last three years; time which saw them go about solo projects. He also talked of the freedom he and Jacob feel that they had with this album now it was just between the two founding members. Will this added freedom show up in their new LP or will the lost members leave their sound depleted?

The subdued opening of their lead track ‘Magic Mountain’ soon gathers pace with bold and sharp percussion, siren-like guitars, and a deliberate move to never sync the guitars and vocals together as they both go about doing their opposite tasks. It’s a urgent and unrelenting track that is forever keeping you on your toes, especially when the track appears to reach a conclusion before launching back into a high pitched, meandering squeal. It doesn’t appear to make much sense at first but after a few listens you can see they have gone for that hard to grasp approach and it works pretty well. More than anything I like their thinking and it’s a lot more than I expected from them too. ‘I Can’t Pretend’ is a pretty sizable shift from the manic and unrelenting ‘Magic Mountain’ with a much more relaxed and steady beat with a swooning and distant ballad that features wistful and sentimental vocals, “cute” lyrics and feathery synth intervals and motions. The low lying bass line gently rumbles below it to give the foundation for the high swoons and nostalgic wistfulness. The distorted guitar track acts the twitchy hook to add to the feelings the song is already purposefully conveying. It’s a track that’s simple, but effective. A soft nudge as opposed to the smack of ‘Magic Mountain’ and a sign of a varied and dynamic third album.

‘Kiss Me Again’ offers up more of their familiar quick-fire Indie pop with a bouncing rhythm and bass line which occasionally has flashing lead riffs and samples flailing from it with the vocals offering up the melody with it’s light and poppy lyrics. A song that doesn’t offer up a huge departure from their past work. ‘Let Me’ has a rapidly bouncing synth that is intertwined with the space to make the track seem purposeful yet distant too, This directive is stepped up with the introduction of fast moving percussion and a lead riff hook. The song offers up a direct light and shade and thought the synth led sections sound pretty interesting musically, the flashing riffs following on from it do seem to lose the song’s aim a little. ‘US National Park’ is a disjointed swooner of a ballad which isn’t given enough flexibility to make the left of field idea work here. It instead just sounds like not only a swooning ballad, but not a very good one… You look to ‘There Is Nothing Left’ and find some well delivered power Indie Pop, but it does offer up some nice transitions and switches, yet the progression back to the chorus just seems a little flat, like a chore. Other tracks such as ‘I Hope Time Doesn’t Change Him’ and ‘Break My Heart’ are mere continuations of this. The melodies and out of place and the disjointed nature of the ballads isn’t made into to something workable like Julian Casablancas achieved with Tyranny. This is mostly true for the whole album. While their inventive slant is appreciated, it has only worked for them here for a certain number of tracks. Apart from that you’re either offered up with the same old or poorly functioning songs, but with perseverance they could achieve an innovative sound that is sustainable.

The Drums – Encyclopedia = 6/10

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