Portamento’s The Drums pounds a too familiar beat
Just a year after releasing their self-titled debut album, The Drums get rolling again on another
record, but perhaps prematurely. Suffering the departure of guitarist Adam Kessler last year, the remaining trio seems to have been a little rushed to move on, producing a redux rather than a reinvigorated sound.
The title of the album, Portamento, which is a term in music used to describe a slide between two pitches or two notes, would suggest the idea of change or progression. However, there is little change in The Drums’ sound to be noted on this release, save for a slight paring back. This restraint demonstrates the band’s knack for simplicity but makes the album a somewhat disappointing follow-up to last year’s chart-topping release. Many of the songs on Portamento not only sound similar to those on their last album, they sound so much like one another that swapping the lyrics from one track to another would easily still produce the same effect.
A couple of songs like the catchy and cute “Money” help break up the monotony of the album, but hardly make up for the cut-and-paste regurgitation of what made their last record such a hit. That being said, tracks like “I Don’t Know How To Love” are still so good in their simplicity that they’re difficult not to like, even if we have already heard them before.
Though the Brooklyn-based group stays true to their unique blend of Beach Boys-inspired surf-rock and synthy 80’s pop, the tried-and-true formula of Johnny Pierce’s pleading vocals over a great bassline and simple melodies unfortunately becomes tired on Portamento. Whether it is finding a replacement for Kessler or simply cultivating their sound a bit longer, The Drums are in need of a little more change than what this album delivers.
-Vinciane de Pape