Review: The Drums nail dating anxiety on Brutalism

Jonny Pierce delivers his sharpest and poppiest album yet

Rating: NNNN

Dating is full of small victories and losses that feel bigger than they might seem to an objective outsider. Jonny Pierce captures the insecurities inherent in flighty romance with his sharpest and poppiest album as the Drums.

Now a solo project with a deceptively plural name, the New York-based musician has made a career of writing hooky and winsome pop tunes, but Brutalism’s nine songs add a new level depth. The album brings together his accessible pop and nerdy indie influences in ways that accentuate and uplift Pierce’s rushes of joy and confusion.

Like the highest high that comes with a successful emotional connection, Brutalism has definite peaks. The most upbeat and lyrically descriptive songs are the most memorable. Blip Of Joy lives in that moment when self-hatred and cynicism melt away for one fleeting moment, with heart-racing, shoegazey drums and swirling synth effects elevating the chorus’s buttery harmonies into pure pop crack. 626 Bedford Avenue is as catchy as it is withering, a vivid and accurate depiction of emotional unavailability hiding under a facade of pretension. Swinging bass line and farty riffs adds a fun kick to the title track’s TMI post-breakup confessional.

Pierce has called Brutalism his most honest work yet, but personal detail aside, it’s an incisive album about the prevailing mood of the moment: anxiety. The lyrics might be grim, but the music encourages us to stick it out.

Top Track: Blip Of Joy

The Drums play the Phoenix Concert Theatre on May 2. See listing.


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