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July 2019
Review

The Drums - Abysmal Thoughts

Cataclysmic lyrics with bright, infectious pop melodies.
The Drums - Abysmal Thoughts
Published: 1:29 pm, June 12, 2017
Cataclysmic lyrics with bright, infectious pop melodies.

Label: Anti-
Released: 16th June 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Recording his chirpy whistling on hit single 'Let’s Go Surfing', must feel like a lifetime ago for Jonathan Pierce. The Drums became indie darlings after its release in 2009, and the song eased the band’s surf rock sound into the living rooms of the nation through its regular appearances on TV adverts. Eight tumultuous years later and Pierce finds himself as the last surviving band member.

So, given that he wrote 'Abysmal Thoughts' alone, while simultaneously dealing with the split from his husband and the departure of his best friend and band co-founder, Jacob Graham, it’s little wonder the record’s subject matter is suitably morose. Thankfully, The Drums’ charm has always rested in their ability to marry cataclysmic lyrics with bright, infectious pop melodies, and it’s no different on their fourth record.

Introspective opener, 'The Mirror', finds Pierce questioning his identity while staring at his reflection. Scampering percussion and The Drums’ familiar reverb-laden guitar lines build to a brilliant, yet heartbreaking climax. It’s one of the record’s highlights.

And it’s a similar formula employed on the likes of 'Blood Under My Belt' and 'Heart Basel', as Pierce laments over broken relationships to bittersweet pop melodies. “Please call me and tell me that you want me / 'cause right now my life is getting pretty ugly,” Pierce sings on the latter, while pretty guitar parts belie the sorrow in his vocals to great effect.

In fact, the formula works so well that Pierce seems reluctant to deviate from it, perhaps because it affords him the comfort with which to explore such deeply personal subjects.'Abysmal Thoughts' is quite clearly an album Pierce needed to make for himself and, while it’s unlikely to win over hordes of new fans, it certainly proves he’s capable of delivering on his own terms. Alex Thorp

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