Soliciting for bloggable material is a rather unfortunate situation to find one’s self in. Alas, with a phone with no data (first world problems), a shonky WiFi connection that stays put about as long as an ADHD kid in a cordial factory and a compadre just bursting to share songs with me, I’ve taken on today’s suggestion, after flatly turning down an offer of Skrillex (however good the ending is, it’s not going to make me sit through the beginning), to dive into the world of the drums and a remix from uk remixer chad valley. Because I vaguely enjoy the drums, recall that their performance at Splendour In The Grass a couple of years ago was surprisingly impressive and because I haven’t ever really explored one of the original Brooklyn buzz bands (circa 2009, ie. before being a buzz band was even a thing). Moreover, I’m interested in exploring the chillwave implications that a Chad Valley remix had for the original. That and I literally have access to no other music.
The Drums, all flanelled up, skinny-jeaned to the nines and sporting the kind of fringes that you simply can’t leave Williamsburg sporting lest you be labelled a freak, a weirdo or, worse still, a hipster, come off as remarkably disingenuous about the whole music thing. As if their whole act, reverberating out of that sweet Borough Of Cool next to Manhattan, replete with rad denim jackets, alternate and historically significant influences like Joy Division, The Smiths and The Shangri-las, and otherwise oozing small-scale organic appeal was just that, an act. But regardless of whether their shtick is to totally ape the sort of nonchalant nihilism of those British acts of yesteryear or to provide the well-off, materially-swamped white kids of today with something to naval gaze about, the brand of toned-down Vampire Weekendism that they push, less pastels and polo, more sandy seriousness and desert boots, is endearing if slightly put on.
Curiously, on the band’s follow-up to their warmly received eponymous debut – Portamento, which casually references the Italian for a vocal slide between two pitches, and was released September last year – they chose to lead out with the considerably depressing ‘Money’ rather than running with the proven track record of ditties like ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. On ‘Money’, where the band does continue it’s legacy of cutesy, simple lyricism, is more depressing on the whole, a sentiment bolstered by Jonathan Pierce’s vocal treatment of the chorus refrain’s second line, near-on crying, ‘but I don’t have any money’. But that sense of fractured romance is largely decimated by Hugo Manuel’s (aka Chad Valley) remode which, true to chillwave form, invites swelling waves of synths (anathema to The Drums’ guitar-driven ethos), vaguely tropical and galactic themes and certainly hints of a marimba in there somewhere. It’s not that it’s a bad treatment. On the contrary, Manuel has done a good job of turning out something of near-Aeroplane proportions that is eminently listenable. You just get the sense that after putting so much effort into their aura, honing their look and sound after so many before them, The Drums might be a touch disgruntled at being steamrolled by the chillwave. Maybe steamrolled is too strong a verb. It is wishy washy but undeniably enjoyable.
The Drums – ‘Money’ (Chad Valley Remix)