Album review: The Drums – ‘Summertime!’

Indian summer arrives in the form of a band to fall in love with

There are few things that unite the NME office, bar mild alcoholism, social retardation or the threat of imminent nuclear holocaust. So when we heard [a]The Drums[/a] and realised that we all thought they were brilliant, we were suspicious. Surely some trick? This perfect band must be a kind of Trojan horse, a trap to get us all into one venue and then gas us like the vermin we are.

Probe as we might, though, we can’t see any rotten molars on this fine-fetlocked gift pony. From the innocent/knowing euphoria of the early-Cure-gone-west-coast sunshine pop of ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ via the Jonathan Richman-ish naivety of ‘The Saddest Summer’ to the synth-soaked, John Hughes-soundtrack new romantic crush-angst of ‘I Felt Stupid’, it’s so flawless you almost feel embarrassed for everyone else. And they only formed less than a year ago!

‘Down By The Water’ deftly seduces the moodiness of [a]Black Lips[/a] and the ghostly doo-wop of [a]Grizzly Bear[/a] into a delicious bad-boy and prom-queen tryst down under the boardwalk. ‘Don’t Be A Jerk Johnny’’s sweet gender-battle (“You used to be so pretty/But now you’re just tragic”) is like a less try-hard, less dull [a]Vampire Weekend[/a], while ‘The Saddest Summer’ is the best misleadingly titled evocation of randy summer fun we’ve heard since Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’.

The Bunnymen-gone-new romantic ‘Submarine’ finds a shadow in the sunshine like a plastic-wrapped body on the shoreline and ‘Make You Mine’, for all its sassy rhythms, whistling and falsetto call-and-response is more than just a stylish exercise in ’50s rock’n’roll stylings – when Jonathan Pierce sighs
“I don’t know what to do when/I see you holding someone else’s hand/And I don’t know what to say/Cos when I open my mouth I always sound so stupid”, it’s a god-only-knows-how-sweet evocation of teenage melancholy. This EP couldn’t be any more giddy with promise. Let’s just hope these cads don’t leave us with summer dreams, ripped at the seams…

Emily Mackay

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