Not since the Beach Boys has surf pop actually enticed me to try and surf (which isn’t a bad thing – I’m a terrible surfer). But, aptly named Summertime, the debut album for Californian duo The Drums has me waxing down my board, so to speak.
Opening track Let’s Go Surfing got me thinking about the beach. Lyrics like “wake up, it’s a beautiful morning” and “honey, take a run down to the beach” aren’t subtle. Clearly this album is meant for summer. Clearly it’s meant to be listened to on balmy nights with cicadas chirping/from a car, doors open and stereo blasting, in the beach car park/in a loaded up ‘woody’ with our boards inside (Beach Boys reference from their song of the same name, in case you’re wondering).
However, it’s not just the lyrics that are beach enticing. The Dick Dale-esque guitar (all be it played with less intensity and bravado) accompanies whistles, light drums and the voice of a seemingly not-quite-full-grown man. His voice perfectly suits the playful, uplifting melodies.
In Saddest Summer, track two, and my favourite of the album, his voice and the cheery music juxtapose the mostly sad lyrics. It was only after a couple of listens that I realised that the song is about breaking up with a new girlfriend to make this “the saddest summer ever”. Although, with an opening line of “If you’ve got a boyfriend, go kiss him/if you’ve got a girlfriend, go kiss her”, you can’t blame me for being mistaken.
Including a couple of token slow and emotional songs, Down By The River and Instruct Me, and a remix of single Let’s Go Surfing, The Drums have produced an album that I hope is a staple of many people’s summer music diets. No songs are too similar, the music is polished yet not over-produced and with the exception of Saddest Summer, lyrics are sung with genuine emotion and earnestness.
I would like to tell The Drums that as far as surfing goes, if I could, I would, all thanks to them. I’d also like to thank them because, best of all about this album, listening to it makes me happy.
This review was first published in Beat magazine.