The Drums' 'Abysmal Thoughts' Confronts Major Changes Honestly
  • FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2017

  • Posted by: Caroline Bojarski


I'm not usually one to listen to full albums, but The Drums' latest release, Abysmal Thoughts, might be one of the few exceptions. Despite the band's loss of longtime member, Jacob Graham, The Drums retain their unique sound on this album, delivering indie rock that conjures up lazy seaside vibes subtly interwoven with heartrending, sometimes angry lyrics. Graham's departure from The Drums was one of several life changes that inspire lead singer Johnny Pierce's writing throughout Abysmal Thoughts, an album whose creation involved intense introspection and personal growth. Abysmal Thoughts is the fruit of Pierce's reflection, combining the best elements of the band's previous work and adding devastatingly open, contemplative songwriting and a layer of cathartic sadness.

Early on, the album gives the impression that Pierce suddenly decided to stop holding back his true thoughts in his lyrics and now refuses to stop the flow of his sometimes brutally frank words. We can thank this change for the opening lines of "I'll Fight For Your Life" which backhandedly joke, "If your nose was bleeding/ I would tell you, It's a stupid party anyway/ You'll always be stupid/ So I'll always be there." This song depicts the struggle of caring deeply about another person, even while realizing that they are kind of the proverbial Worst. It also transitions seamlessly from the album's opening track, "Mirror," which uses the act of staring at a reflection as a metaphor for considering the effects of loved ones on your own internal state. The continuous transition from "Mirror" to "I'll Fight For Your Life" gives the impression of Pierce taking the time to figure out how he feels, then holding nothing back in admitting what he discovered. Excellent.

Another shining example of lyrical honesty is "Rich Kids," in which Pierce blurts out, "Rich kids/ You make me sick kids/ a bunch of dick kids." A cyclical, repetitive synth line emphasizes these disgusted sentiments while adding a detached element that suggests Pierce's readiness to distance himself from whoever inspired this song.

The Drums bring fresh sounds to Abysmal Thoughts on "Are U Fucked," a track that adds maturity to the bitterness of secretly hoping an ex is doing just as poorly as you are post breakup by accepting responsibility for the relationship's failure. After an introduction of psychedelic sighs reminiscent of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life" -- the part in the middle where it all breaks down for a minute -- Pierce laments, "You were kind/ I was cruel." The jazzy saxophone riffs on "Your Tenderness" is another temporary instrumental renovation to The Drums' guitar-driven vibe.

Abysmal Thoughts transmits Pierce's process of painful exploration to the listener from start to finish and is a pivotal album for The Drums both in terms of changes to the band's membership and in terms of evolution as the band takes a more serious direction with their writing. Every track gives insight into Pierce's turbulent creative process, and every track is honest and relatable, yet still appropriate accompaniment for a California sunset.
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