The Drums return with their third album and a sound suggesting that they have left the beach for somewhere darker
aving slimmed down to a duo, The Drums return with their third album Encylopedia. Surviving members Johnny Pierce and Jacob Graham have created an album which suggests that when Connor Hanwick left (following the earlier departure of Adam Kessler) he decided to take the beach with him. This is not music in the vein of their earlier surf-pop but something darker and more expansive.
Magic Mountain gets things going as harsh noises clash with repetitive vocals. Speaking of the track, Pierce rightly says that the band’s approach to the song was, “Let’s knock them over the head and see what happens” and it is a fitting quote to sum up the album as a whole. Synths and loops compete with, if not dominate, swirling guitars. On occasions, such as with the indulgent Bell Labs, it feels as if The Drums are going too far to create a new sound.
On album highlight There Is Nothing Left they have shown that there is a way forward which is both exciting and familiar, a beautiful compromise that is the exception rather than the rule. Fans of the old breezy version of The Drums may find Encylopedia too big a leap of faith but in isolation it is an interesting experiment in texture and sound.
Verdict: A huge departure with mixed results