"Abysmal Thoughts"

The Drums

ANTI- Records, 2017

http://thedrums.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/16/2017

The Drums – like one of their influences, The Smiths – embraces shyness and expresses the hopelessness of the introverted cool. Take the title track off this fourth release by this New York-based outfit, which starts off with the grim words, “Oh abysmal thoughts pushing me down to the ground.” But the most memorable part of the song is when frontman Johnny Pierce, in his tender voice, repeats the word “Abysmal” in a passionate and celebratory way, as if he has found religion.

As suggested by the title, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 "Abysmal Thoughts" is full of dismal lyrics, attributed to hardships that Pierce was facing in his personal life at the time of writing the album. However, these words are very smartly wrapped up in bouncy and cheerful pop tunes. At times, there is even some dark humor, like on one of the album’s best songs “Rich Kids,” which contains the lines “Rich kids, you make me sick kids, a bunch of dick heads / Rich kid, you don’t give two shits, you make me slit wrists,” which sound as catchy as they are bleak.

Another highlight, the noir-ish “Are U Fucked,” is the only sort of “dark” song musically. It features the chorus, “I’m asking are you fucked cuz I’m feeling fucked,” which is sung with such chilling calmness that it sounds humorously sarcastic coming from Pierce’s innocuously soft voice.

With its simply constructed songs, "Abysmal Thoughts" has the musical aesthetic of post-punk bands such as New Order and The Cure from their early days, when their music still had remnants of the tail end of punk. Although this is one of The Drums’ more well-produced albums, the production on it is still thin, making the music notably raw. But this does not take anything away from the disc’s catchiness. In fact, the coarseness of the music counter-balances some of the album’s overly sugary moments; for example, the lullaby-like music and singing on “Head Of The Horse” would most certainly have sounded overly saccharine had this song been more polished.

Dark, touchy, funny, and temperamental, "Abysmal Thoughts" is akin to adolescence with it complex facets, and the innocence with which these feelings are presented, all thanks to the simplistic words, music, and honestly pure vocals. This album lets you relive your teenybopper days but without having to be embarrassed by it, and this is not something that can be pulled off so easily!

Rating: B

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