A warning to all potential significant others: Break the Drums’ singer Jonathan Pierce’s heart, and risk an icy shower of emotion written into song in your honor. Although the Brooklyn indie rockers never name names, their energetic, three-minute pop structures don’t hold back on conveying Pierce’s ever-dampening mood. What were surf-guitar tropes, Phil Spector-inspired vamping and songs about breakups (“It Will All End In Tears” on the group’s self-titled debut) are now songs about breakups (“In The Cold”) held together with calculated modular synthesizer melodies.
Portamento—the act of gliding between two notes, a technique Pierce uses liberally in spots when he’s edging into Morrissey territory—is a dramatic, bitchy and playful collection that can channel the aforementioned grief through the Drums’ lively fingers, and come out effervescent on the other side. Though “Money” is a timely economic downturn-colored moment about being too broke to buy a gift for a lover—but still wanting to do the right thing—it contains the liveliest moments on a fireworks-filled album. The sparks of the afterlife come out in “Book Of Revelations,” when Pierce sings, “I believe that when we die, we die/So let me love you tonight.” Talk about a pickup line!
The sparse, drumless “Searching For Heaven” is one of the most adventurous uses of the cold, electronic keyboard sounds, and it suggests what the Killers could be doing with their time these days. The most familiar reminder of past artists that comes from this wellspring of computerized inner tumult would be old Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark melodies such as “If You Leave.” However, the Drums are careful to keep away from straight-up imitations of any of their ’80s progenitors, and just let Pierce’s own fresh tears do the talking.