The Drums Portamento

The Drums Portamento
Between last year's self-titled debut and follow-up Portamento, NYC's the Drums parted ways with guitarist Adam Kessler and considered disbanding. Though they persevered, this sophomore effort is peppered with break-up songs ("Hard to Love," "Please Don't Leave") and existential musings ("Book of Revelation"), making the results contemplative rather than bombastic. Largely gone is the levity of tracks like "Let's Go Surfing," replaced with winter metaphors ("If He Likes It Let Him do It") and sad goodbyes ("In the Cold"). The group's sound has tightened rather than expanded, yet many old influences remain (see the Peter Hook-evoking bass line on "Days" and the Cure-lite melody of "What You Were"). Only the catchy-as-chickenpox "Money" fully utilizes the band's shit-eating cheekiness, while other highlights, notably the blip-friendly "Hard to Love" and the Strokes-cribbing "Book of Revelation," show off added maturity. Lacking the obvious hooks and infectious swagger of its predecessor, Portamento aims for subtlety. While not as immediately impactful, the extra poise still shows promise. (Island)