The Drums

Encyclopedia

Minor

Sep 23, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J Bookmark and Share


The third record is the proving ground. Great debuts are a dime a dozen and surpassing the sophomore slump is an impressive feat, but the third time's the charm for a reason. A successful third album is where a band presents themselves as more than an interesting sight on the horizon. It's the transition to being something of a permanent landmark, a memory worth having. The Drums' Encyclopedia is their Eiffel Tower. No longer are they the most delightfully '80s inspired of the recent wave of surfy groups, because this is a record which serves a far greater purpose than being a much-better-than-average soundtrack to driving along the coast.

If you've been around since their debut, you'll find all the catchiness of "Let's Go Surfing" and "Book of Stories" here. The more melancholy inclinations of their second album, Portamento, are present too but in even darker strains. With those records, The Drums set up an edifice which needs no deconstruction. There will always be a place for synthesizers and guitars which make you dance coupled with lyrics for crybabies. Encyclopedia keeps constructing on that foundation but the architecture is more complex and satisfying now. They start on top of a "Magic Mountain" and never leave the summit. The shadowy maturity they found at that peak colors every song throughout the rest of the record too. "I Hope Time Doesn't Change Him" and "Face of God" stand out for their willingness to embrace chaos, fear and sadness without losing hold of infectious pop oscillations.

The instrumentation is as immediately accessible as ever but this is the first time the band's putting out songs which sound like riddles needing to be unraveled. Their synths cast spells taken from the most haunting pages of OMD's grimoire, and Jonathan Pierce's voice sounds more evocative now than it ever has before. Look in this Encyclopedia and you'll find The Drums defining themselves for now and forever. (www.thedrums.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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