Personnel: Jonny Pierce (vocals, drums); Connor Hanwick (guitar); Jacob Graham (synthesizer).
Audio Mixers: Jacob Graham; Jonny Pierce.
Recording information: Discoball Jazzfest Studio, NYC, NY; NYC, NY; Sunset Cottage, Woodstock, NY.
Photographers: Rachael Wright; Mathias Mentze.
Ever since the success of their first single "Let's Go Surfing," the Drums have spent equal amounts of time tracing that song's sound and distancing themselves from it. They continue to do so on Portamento, beginning their second album with a pair of jaunty kiss-offs to religion and exes. "Book of Revelation" is the album's first and catchiest track, offering a decidedly secular take on living for the moment; "Days," meanwhile, follows in the footsteps of the band's idol Morrissey with lyrics that are so archly self-pitying that they become funny. Indeed, many of Portamento's songs are kind of miserable -- or at least they would be, if these knowing, glum lyrics weren't paired with na?ve melodies and tempos that are too brisk to be mopey. It's hard not to read the Drums' downbeat outlook as a response to Adam Kessler's departure from the band (during their first U.S. tour, no less), and Portamento's sound reflects that change as well. The band's overt '50s and '60s pop worship is largely sublimated in favor of post-punk and synth pop, with the notable exception of "What You Were," a jangly number with a sax solo that recalls both '50s rock and the post-punk and new wave acts that resurrected that sound the first time around. At first, Portamento seems more cohesive than The Drums was, but the album's second half wanders off in several directions. The strangest is "Searching for Heaven," which begins with a symphonic synth intro that seems cribbed from Switched on Bach, then segues into a searching, heartfelt melody that stands in sharp contrast to "Book of Revelation"'s confident atheism. ~ Heather Phares
The Wake (Scotland), The Beach Boys, The Smiths, Orange Juice
La Luz, Cayucas, Surfer Blood, Bleeding Rainbow, DIIV, Cymbals, Ski Lodge, Splashh, The Tough Alliance, The Legends (Sweden), Youth Lagoon, Beach Fossils, Fang Island, Wild Nothing, Vampire Weekend, Heavenly Beat, Howler
1 Book of Revelation
3 What You 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
Rock & Pop
French Kiss Records
Number of Discs:
Mono or Stereo:
45 : 16
Spin (p.74) - "[W]ith chopped-up vocals, burbling synths, and cooing harmonies that should place them firmly in the sophisticated-yet-naive pop tradition of Saint Etienne..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "They only really have one kind of song and tempo, rollicking yet melancholy, but they write them very, very well."
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