Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Down By The Water” by The Drums from their 2010 self-titled album on Downtown.
The Drums will be LIVE on KEXP this Wednesday as we broadcast from the Ace Hotel lobby in New York City during CMJ. Check out the rest of our lineup here.
One thing that can certainly be said about The Drums is that they are not a band that defy comparison and whose influences are hard to pin down. The Brooklyn band’s sound is so reminiscent of 80s pop pioneers such as The Smiths, The Cure, and New Order that it borders on plain mimicry. While this might lead some to view the band as a novelty act to a certain degree, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sound great, and that they don’t absolutely nail the simple style that made their predecessors’ music so catchy. Following up their successful EP Summertime!, the band released their self-titled full-length debut in 2010, which is fresh, effusively poppy, and undeniably and unabashedly indebted to 80s new wave, post-punk, whatever you want to call it, right down to the lilting synths, simple guitar lines, and depressing lyrics.
In today’s Song of the Day, “Down By The Water”, front man Jonathan Pierce’s vocals and lyrics take center stage, as the bouncy guitar is cut and the tempo is slowed to a methodical plod. Though this makes the song seem even more downtrodden and depressing, the lyrics are actually some of The Drums most optimistic, as Pierce assures a lover that even though “it’s hard” he will make sure everything is alright: “If you fall asleep down by the water / Baby I’ll carry you all the way home.” The confidence in Pierce’s lyrics mixes with traces of vulnerability in his wailing vocals to make “Down By The Water” particularly affecting. This is just one example of the fact that even though The Drums carry heavy similarities to their influences, they are certainly legitimate songwriters in their own right, and just might be starting a new-new wave of their own.
Shortly after their performance this Wednesday during CMJ, the band will embark on a European tour. Head over to their MySpace page for more details and future dates.