The Drums' Jonathan Pierce has it all mixed up — today's fame-seeking musicians are trading in their guitars for keyboards, not their keyboards for guitars. But after failing to deliver on the major-label promise of his mid-2000s synthpop vehicle Elkland, the beach-blond New Yorker, who could pass for a modern-day Billy Zabka, has struck indie-pop gold with his new quartet, the Drums. After Elkland's split a few years ago (they freed themselves from a rumored massive recording contract with Columbia), Pierce left Brooklyn for Orlando, meeting up with childhood friend Jacob Graham to start a new project. Turns out the sun-filled days had an effect, since the Drums' charming quirks are embedded in twee surfpop. Pierce's knack for hooky songwriting was apparent in Elkland (see "Apart"), but with the Drums, he's fleshed out his melodies and rhythms with a lo-fi, easy-breezy, post-punk edge. Bouncy opening track "Best Friend" has lyrics ripped right out of Smiths University with a major in Mozzism ("You were my best friend/But then you died/And how will I survive"), "Me and the Moon" is carried by structured Stephen Morris–esque drumming, and the whistle-smart "Let's Go Surfing" is just what you'd expect. Pierce has picked apart the classics that influenced him (the Wake, the Shangri-Las, Joy Electric), stripped them down to their pop core, and redressed it all as one of the best albums of 2010.
THE DRUMS + THE HAIRS | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | October 18 at 8 pm | 18+ | $15 | 617.562.8800 or thedise.com