Encyclopedia is the third record from The Drums. Yes, The Drums, of surf-pop ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ fame, however, you would hardly recognise them on their new effort. The band have admitted that this third record was a tough one to do, especially considering that the drummer of the band, Connor Hanwick, left the band and his childhood friends Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham behind to pick up the pieces. The record reflects this state of mind, the band are trying to re-establish themselves and it’s not entirely convincing.
The record is far removed from the surf-pop we are used to from the band, and with a sound so distinctive as The Drums’, it’s hard to move towards the electronic pastures they are attempting with Encyclopedia. It’s hard to shake the bleak sadness of the record, it is a huge contrast from the easy-going and up-beat vibes of the first two records. However, it is not all bad, some of the time this experimental venture works really well, they are moving with the times and have captured the in-vogue dark alternative indie. On the other hand, there are times when you can see the remnants of surf-pop trying its hardest to shine through the bleakness, and failing to do so.
Opener ‘Magic Mountain’ throws the listener into The Drum’s new electronic experimentation age. It sounds influenced by Animal Collective and Crystal Castles, but a lite version in the way that they don’t quite capture noise pop as well as the aforementioned bands. It’s weird, but not in a good way; disjointed and mashed together as if they’re almost trying too hard to be new and inventive. It’s a darker shade of the indie-pop we’re used to, and it is far detached from their most popular self-titled record.
Tracks such as ‘I Can’t Pretend’ and ‘Kiss Me Again’ show glimmers of greatness. The former has a great chorus and this is where the remnants of surf-pop have flourished and worked well with the new, darker sound. ‘Kiss Me Again’ is also aligned with the new experimental age of the band and has appealed in the same way that Alvvay’s debut record does; seeing dark surf-pop at it’s best in 2014. However, upon reaching ‘Let Me’ we are back to out of place synth modulations with the echoing Beach Boys type vocals lost in a mash of confused attempts at electronic music.
Overall the whole record is like discovering the surf-pop boat shipwrecked on a sparse desert island, with no hopes of it being put back together anytime soon. Hints of The Drums’ origins remain, however the majority is experimental as they delve into the unknown, and it’s often too lack lustre to demonstrate a creative move into the future. Sometimes it is better to stick with what you do best, and I’m afraid to say this is the case with Encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia is out now.