Release Date: Apr 5, 2019
Record label: Anti-
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On Brutalism, Jonny Pierce continues the self-reflection and self-healing he began on Abysmal Thoughts, which, thanks to the ways his music grew to accommodate more complicated emotional states, was a breakthrough album for the Drums in more ways than one. As part of the healing process, Pierce collaborated with outside musicians on Brutalism and brought in Chris Coady to mix the album. With a bigger creative team supporting him, Pierce takes inspiration from his longtime affection for synth pop and electronic music, letting the shiny production and instrumentation act as candy-coated armor for his musings on love and lust.
When news of The Drums' fifth album 'Brutalism' arrived in January, it came with an unexpected announcement, later summarised by a post on the band's Instagram page: "Part of my evolving process for the new album was to bring in additional writers and producers, engineers and mixers," read a caption, accompanying handwritten lyrics to single 'Body Chemistry'. The message - penned by frontman Jonny Pierce - was at odds with much of what was said last time around. Jonny spent a fair portion of 2017 reassuring journalists that it was a good thing his colleagues had quit (formerly a four-piece, The Drums has been his solo project for the last few years), because their departure gave him "a feeling of independence and freedom" that he'd not experienced before.
The Drums' - okay, sole remaining member Jonny Pierce - latest record outdoes expectations, swapping indie-pop for welcome experimentalism Just over a decade ago, The Drums were a very different prospect. They were primed to be a new generation of indie-kids’ Beach Boys, their songs mainly hitting the coast with your pals clad in striped shirts. The band’s self-titled 2010 debut came good on the promise, landing somewhere between Orange Juice and The Cure’s most exhilarating moments.
To hear frontman Jonny Pierce tell it, his fifth album as the Drums, Brutalism, is his most honest effort yet. Something is indeed new and different on Brutalism, but it isn't Pierce's obsessive self-examination, nor the A-B-A-B-schemed verses, nor even the fact that it's the first Drums album to use a live drummer, as its beats remain as simple as always and the difference is barely detectable. What's different here is that Pierce's best trick--bailing the Drums out of all the above criticisms with undeniable hooks--is practically absent.