25th October 2011

Album: The Drums – Portamento

Like your music bland and samey? You’ll love this.

The Drums
Moshi Moshi/Island Records

2 out of 5

Just over a year since the release of their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, The Drums are back with Portamento, their palpably unremarkable second effort. Given the turbulence of the band’s recent past (losing a guitarist, and dealing with the upheaval that came with it), you might expect Portamento to be musically a very different record to The Drums. It isn’t: it merely sounds like a moodier re-run.

Despite this, ‘Book of Revelation’ is still a strong opener, retaining the melancholy catchiness and infectious bass of their first album. “I’ve seen the world, and there’s a heaven and there’s no hell”, lead singer Jonathan Pierce assures us during the chorus; unfortunately, listening to the album’s other 11 tracks arguably proves the opposite. By the time we reach the fourth track ‘Money’, the album’s first single, the songs already begin to blend into a bland musical sameness. Although the slower tempo and softer, less frantic vocals of ‘Searching For Heaven’ do introduce some progression, the band then revert back to their usual quick, poppy style for the remaining five tracks. ‘If He Likes It Let Him Do It’, with its Morrissey-esque vocals (heard throughout the album, most obviously in ‘Money’), quickly becomes annoying, and Pierce’s whining voice on ‘In the Cold’ doesn’t take long to start grating.

The word ‘portamento’ is an Italian term denoting a vocal slide between two pitches, but despite its connotations with change there is little to be found here. Few of the 12 tracks on Portamento are actively bad, but most are lazy and uninventive, which makes the album a frustrating listen. Pierce’s lyrics in ‘Hard to Love’ perhaps sum up the album well; “I would never hate you, but you’re hard to love” – except in this case, it’s very hard.

More Coverage

We can start over again? Blur reopen The Halls, Wolverhampton

A reformed Blur and a reopened venue; there was everything to adore about the indie darlings’ two-hour set.

Lytham Festival 2023: Lionel Richie, Def Leppard and lots more

Lytham Festival 2023 is headlined by Jamiroquai, George Ezra, Sting, Lionel Richie, and Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, with special guests including Blondie, Gabrielle and Kim Wilde

“Music doesn’t often go for joy, and there’s nothing more elating than humour” – In Conversation with Yard Act

Yard Act frontman James Smith talks fatherhood, the difficult second album, hip-hop and the surprising similarities between music and stand-up comedy

La Clique – Media preview

Ahead of La Clique’s Northern premiere at Depot Mayfield, The Mancunion attended an exclusive media preview to catch a glimpse of the acts

Copyright © The Mancunion
Powered By Spotlight Studios

0161 275 2930  University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR