The Drums’ Jonny Pierce declared his intentions early on in the buzz band’s CMJ showcase at Webster Hall Wednesday night.
“This is pop music,” Pierce says, in the dramatic, hyper-enunciated style he uses on stage. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
He was right. Though The Drums haven’t reached the same sensation status here that they have in England, shows like this should certainly help the Brooklyn band get there.
Much has been made of The Drums’ minimalist songs and strict new wave inspiration, but in concert, the focus is on fun. It’s hard not to smile when watching Pierce’s exaggerated dancing and dramatic flourishes. That kind of non-ironic enthusiasm is in short supply – especially at industry-heavy events like CMJ – and it’s infectious.
On songs like “Submarine,” the bass line is really the star, leading to all sorts of variations on the Molly Ringwald dance from “The Breakfast Club” in the crowd. Songs like “Make You Mine” and “Forever and Ever Amen” make you wonder what would have happened to The Smiths if Johnny Marr played bass, not guitar.
The influence of The Smiths, New Order and Jesus and Mary Chain is clear, especially in the upbeat moments like “Let’s Go Surfing” and “Best Friend.” But “Baby, That’s Not the Point” feels like a modern-day “Leader of the Pack” and there’s a ‘60s-girl-group simplicity to the dramatic closer “Down by the Water,” which ended in feedback and an overturned drum kit.
The Drums are masters of a very singular style of music. But they are masterful nonetheless.
SETLIST: It Will All End in Tears / Best Friend / Submarine / Book of Stories / Don’t Be a Jerk, Jonny / Make You Mine / Let’s Go Surfing / Me and the Moon / I Need Fun in My Life / We Tried / Forever and Ever Amen // ENCORE: Baby, That’s Not the Point / Skippin’ Town / Down by the Water
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