Monday 16 September 2019

The Drums, Whelan's, Dublin review: 'These hosts of indie pop wore their battle scares with pride as they delivered a darkly compelling performance'

5 stars

The Drums
The Drums
The Drums
The Drums

Ed Power

The Drums were the biggest thing in alternative music for about 10 minutes in 2010. But then the hipsters moved on and the New Yorkers’ take on Smiths-style misanthropic pop was downgraded from charming to naff.

Worse was to come as the songwriting partnership of Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham underwent a messy fracturing. That left the shy, anxious Pierce as the only Drum standing – and in danger of a place on the scrap heap of forgotten overnight sensations.

However, Pierce and his new touring line-up have bounced back admirably. Recent fourth album, Abysmal Thoughts, is a tour de force of cathartic indie rock, blending swooning melodies and self-lacerating wordplay.

They were certainly among their people on the latest date of their European trek. A sell-out crowd had gathered and the pirouetting Pierce was visibly moved at hearing even his more obscure lyrics sung back to him.

Older favourites Let’s Go Surfing and Best Friend glittered among the newer tracks. The big surprise was an impassioned address by Pierce, in which he described the emptiness of overnight fame (hanging with Alexa Chung doesn’t appear to have impressed him much) and the pain he felt at being rejected, as a gay man, by his Christian Evangelical parents.

The future may not have worked out quite as anticipated for Pierce and his underdog crew – but these ghosts of indie pop wore their battle scares with pride as they delivered a darkly compelling performance. 

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