The Drums went through some serious internal shuffling. Once four, they now cook up tunes as a duo — Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, the long-time friends who met as kids in Bible camp. We haven’t seen or heard from them for a few years, but they return with a couple mint-fresh, edgy tracks in anticipation of their new record, Encyclopedia.
“I Can’t Pretend” can be streamed here, but you should also check out their artful lyric video. A goldfish swims trapped in its bowl as a backdrop to the ominous lyrics. “It’s too hard to begin when you know it will end,” Jonny despondently reflects. Pierce philosophized on the reason for the tune’s dark lyrics when he told Spin magazine:
“The moment we take our first breath, we become slaves to this life and to it’s pointlessness — and there really is no out. If that seems heavy-handed, well that’s because our shared reality is… a heavy one. I’ve never had much of a drive to build an empire or much less a retirement fund, simply because it’s a lot of shuffling about for nothing… in the end it’s all for nothing. Some days this hopelessness chains me to my bed. But, there are other days where I find myself almost blissful because if there is no point, then there are no rules and you can be whatever and whoever you want to be. It’s maybe the only true hope one can cling to (if you’re serious) and you can only find it deep in the folds of Utter Hopelessness. That, my friends, is what ‘I Can’t Pretend’ is about. No rules — get to it. Love who you want! Do what you want!”
This ability to turn heaviness into slight optimism captures one of the compelling traits of Pierce.
Sonically, the track showcases a slight departure from their previous work. No longer crisp and clean separation of sounds, everything on “I Can’t Pretend” blends in an atmosphere. Yet, the band also manages to stay within their oeuvre just enough to keep previous fans satisfied, as evidenced by the buzz the track generated on their Soundcloud page.
“Magic Mountain“, a second song the band pre-released from Encyclopedia can also be streamed on the band’s soundcloud. Screaming guitars stop and start atop a driving drum beat. The track features a structural detour in the middle of the song — another novel move for the usually structurally consistent Drums.
With two less members, the Drums seem to be reveling in the freedom of less compromise. Releasing two tracks is their way of telling fans all will be OK. Encylopedia comes out September 23 through their label, Minor Records. Keep up with the latest on the Drums via their website.