(Pic: The Drums - where there were 4)

The Drums – Manchester Academy 1 - 6.12.10

When The Drums made their debut on the airwaves earlier this year, it wasn’t so much a buzz, more of a flood about ‘that New York surfer band’. My impressions ranged from ‘pretentious Smith tributes’ at best, to a conspiracy theory about a Moshi Moshi audition process at my most cynical. Well they say that summer changes everything; one guitarist down and a whole lot of hype later, Jonathan & Co. coasted into town with the charisma and flamboyance of a band who’ve officially proved their worth and lived up to the hype, riding the crest of a wave of a successful UK tour, it’s safe to say Manchester wanted to go surfing.

I might add here, the first support act Two Wounded Birds quite frankly didn’t win over the audience. Think 50’s rockabilly meets, well, not much else. There were Elvis-style quiffs and riffs a plenty courtesy of front man ’Johnny Danger’. Great.

Fellow New Yorkers and almost fellow musical instrument-titled band Violens proved a bit more promising. Dreamy synths meet striking vocals, reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys and occasionally The Stone Roses, under layers of hazy psycadellia and low-fi crescendos.

Love it or hate it, The Drums are band with an image; the ratio of exposed ankle to turn-up, loafer and novelty sock in Manchester was considerably higher than usual. One fan even pulled out ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ between sets.

Social observations aside, lyrically, the raucous confusion of Me And The Moon, raw grief of Best Friend and spine-shivering honesty of Baby, That’s Not The Point contrasted even more starkly with their whistly, wistful pop melodies when live, all members wailing and flailing awkwardly around the stage. Like their idols before them, “I did not want to let you go/oh but I had to” is hardly the most embellished of lyrics, yet it tears at heartstrings with more pure might than any clichéd, half-formed metaphor could.

The thing about The Drums is that behind the perfect pop, hairstyles and Harrington jackets, it’s all painfully real. Since Adam’s elusive departure, they’re said to have penned their best song yet, based on the loss of a best friend they believe betrayed them. Similarly, the declaration “This is a song about a girl I hate very much” should have the entire room sat on the floor, slashing their wrists. Instead, Don’t Be A Jerk, Johnny had everyone fervently agreeing “You used to be pretty/but now you’re just tragic”. You find yourself believing every single word.

The Manclophiles have managed to recycle the melancholy of Curtis’ lyrics and Marr’s riffs, fused it with some seaside cheer and a sprinkling of gut-wrenching heartbreak, to produce their own brand of beautifully tragic pop to dance to. So forget The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because The Drums have got a good few of them covered, and it’s pretty damn good.

Lucy Holt

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