The Drums' classification as `surfer pop' has always been pretty confusing. It's based almost entirely on `Let's Go Surfing', the breakthrough hit that through its name alone has put them in a box. The stigma also has roots in the trend towards subjects of sunshine and the beach evoked in the relatively new-fangled chillwave genre. Whilst some of the dynamics of that genre are present in the music here (the hazy, washed out, reverb heavy vibe), and musically the band do owe a debt to The Beach Boys, lyrically and melodically they evoke The Smiths and New Order more than the carefree 60s surf acts that they are more often compared with.
If their first album had at least some relevance to idyllic days spent catching a wave on golden sandy beaches, this doesn't concern itself with that kind of imagery at all. Instead, it focuses on angst, often juvenile and always romantic. This may sound unpromising, but since it's underpinned by some gorgeous melodies and the easy, innocent, wistful voice of the lead singer, the result is actually remarkably affecting. When he sings "I believe that when we die we die/so let me love you tonight" you are entranced rather than cynical. When he cries in high falsetto that "I'd like to buy you something/but I don't have any money", you feel for him rather than desiring him to man up.
Confession and self loathing is equally in vogue as the `blissed out' sounds of chillwave that influence this record. Most of the best evokers of these emotions have been in Hip Hop/RnB (The Weeknd, Drake, Kanye West), but here vulnerable looking indie poppers regain their claim to teenage angst, and most pleasingly do it in the format of the three minute indie pop song, where the light music forms a beautiful paradox to the heavy words. It's a remarkably consistent record, and in an age where we are repeatedly told that the album as a format is dead, maintains a cohesive, emotional sound that works far better as a whole than as separate songs appearing on your Ipod shuffle. I don't think they'll ever release a better album; this encapsulates their sound perfectly, and gets better on every repeated play.