The Drums | Portamento

Frenchkiss (2011)
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  September 7, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

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A few years ago, when he was still spitting sighs over synths in underrated electronic act Elkland, the main knock on Jonathan Pierce was his lifting of dance moves from the late Ian Curtis. Now fronting New York blog darlings the Drums, and reaping the fame Elkland appeared destined for back in 2005, Pierce continues his Manchester mimicry by copping the vocal flair of Morrissey. Jittery surf-poppin' single "Money" is ripped right from the BBC clutches of Hatful of Hollow, and it's pretty magnetic. If the Mozzer himself is going to stay forever ensconced in his elder-statesman Vegas Era, then I'll gladly take this bold blond bout of Morrissey youth-worship wrapped nicely in 2011's garage-pop wave. Portamento steers the Drums deeper into synthpop territory on bubbling standout "Hard To Love" ("I will never hate you/But you're hard to love"). The marble guitarwork of "Please Don't Leave" edges up on Beach Fossils territory, and "If He Likes It Let Him Do It" (quite the Smiths-ian title, there) is an icy distillation of early-'80s post-punk. It's catchy, fantastic pop in small doses, but the Drums should be releasing a series of unforgettable EPs instead of another full-length album less than a year after the debut. On its own, Pierce's clever lyrical ache resonates; but in extended play, his yearning and preening against twee surf-pop and minimal electro-pop can grow tiresome.

THE DRUMS + VERONICA FALLS | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | September 29 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $15 | 617.779.0140

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