In its first incantation, Surf Music made you cool and attracted chicks with minimal clothing. By the ’80s, punks had discovered the short songs, punchy melodies, and simple chords that gave a new angle on flipping off the older generation, but today’s post-surf music sounds a bit depressed. It feels its age, notices the receding hairlines on the guys and the too-late-for-surgery sagging of the girls.
The Drums are a pair of very earnest young men writing Robitussin-slow songs perked up with the sunshine of Prozac and Paxil. For a duo, their harmonies deliver their direct lyrics over drums and whistling. “Let’s Go Surfing” might be the single release, if people played 45s anymore. It certainly falls into the surf genre, but there’s no sense of something big about to happen, whether it be the perfect wave, a friendly fight, or a first joint orgasm. Backup vocals feel filtered and far away, as if the other musicians set up in the hall closet and there wasn’t enough microphone cable to reach them. “Don’t be a Jerk Johnny” talks directly to love — a disembodied girlfriend, Jenny, tells lead singer Jonathan Pierce “not to be a jerk.” It may be too late, he’s tired of her at a depressingly early age, exclaiming, “You used to be pretty, but now you’re just tragic… You’re full of horse shit.” I find this attitude more fitting for an older cynic, not for teenagers in lust.
The Drums focus more on what actually happens when the sun sets and the tide goes out, rather than on the potential of a situation. It’s a shoegazing beach party, and if having fun brings you down, The Drums will be right up your pipeline.
The Drums: www.wearethedrums.com