Abysmal at Least
“Abysmal Thoughts” is The Drums’ fourth full-length release on ANTI- records. With the departure of founding member Jacob Graham, Jonny Pierce was fully responsible for all of the songwriting and instrumentals on the LP.
Overall, the sound achieved through Pierce’s songwriting is unmistakably The Drums; thin layers of sound, throbbing bass lines and lots of reverb are amply laced through the indie pop, surf rock production. The majority of the songs on “Abysmal Thoughts” stand out in their own unique ways. However, while numbers like “Mirror” and “Under the Ice” are perfectly pleasant, they don’t seem to carry as much substance as most of the tracks.
“Blood Under My Belt” was the first single released and it’s delightfully upbeat. Pierce sings, “What does it take for you to believe that I have changed? / I know very well that I have blood under my belt / yes, it’s true that I hurt you / but I still love you, I love you, I still do,” in a melodic chorus highlighting the nature of love and relationships. Another standout track is “Are U Fucked,” featuring a disco-esque beat set to a Cure-inspired guitar sound and alternating thirds in the bass. The chorus is particularly stunning in composition, the layers of vocals, bass and guitar blending perfectly for a chill-inducing moment during which Pierce sings, “Are you fucked ’cause I’m feeling fucked?” before heading into a guitar-heavy outro. The chorus alone makes the song repeat-worthy, especially with the addition of jazz trumpet toward the very end of the track.
“Your Tenderness” is the most synth-driven track on the album and features an interesting bass effect. The background music is quite unique, as it accomplishes a fuller yet more avant-garde stylistic effect. “Heart Basel” is pointed and driving with really catchy counterpoint. Continuing the theme of love and relationships, Pierce sings, “Please call me and tell me that you want me / ’cause right now my life is getting pretty ugly,” in the chorus. “Rich Kids” is a slightly ironic commentary on entitled youth, but is fun to sing along to nonetheless.
In true Drums fashion, Pierce includes a couple slow tracks that are rather tender in nature, including “If All We Share (Means Nothing),” which features an acoustic, folk-style intro, lamenting vocals and splatterings of flute, and “Head of the Horse,” which brings vocals to the forefront.
Pierce is clearly trying to engage his fans with relatable lyrics and even some outreach. He’s been all over social media, even going “live” on The Drums’ Facebook page to answer fan’s questions around the time of the album release. “Abysmal Thoughts” delivers a familiarity and relatability that will captivate both longtime Drums devotees and fans of lo-fi indie pop.