Abysmal Thoughts is the most authentic of heartbreak albums. Written and played entirely by Jonny Pierce, it is an autobiographical study of loss. As such, you will feel every inch of pain with him, like a best friend trying to coax him off the settee, into the shower and to change his jogging bottoms.
At no point, however, is this a wallowing album. Abysmal Thoughts is awash with upbeat pop-iness and danceable tunes. It is as if through pain, Pierce finds himself and creativity is the best salve for his aches. Each song is an Instagram snap of a moment in time. The Drums avoids heartbreak clichés by precise references to events. ‘Shoot The Sun Down’ remembers the moment when Pierce ‘put a blanket over my head’. He is Romeo spurned, shutting the curtains to keep the sun out.
‘Head Of The Horse’ pinpoints ‘shrink-wrapped magazines in a paper bag’. Here the variations on the vocal ‘he hugged me when I came home’ is echoed by the guitar line throughout. It is enough to make you weep with him into the cereal you are having for tea.
For all its pop aesthetic, there are many moments when Abysmal Thoughts is reminiscent of The Smiths. ‘Mirror’, for instance, is all emotion and sensitivity, rather like Morrissey but without the humour. It isn’t lacking for that either, as we know with Pierce we have rawness and actual heartbreak not just the conceit of being rejected.
This is definitely the case with one of the strongest tracks, ‘Blood Under My Belt’. Pierce sings ‘I still love you’ whilst we know that love is sliding away from him, ‘what did I say to make you run away?’ The songs are strangely life-affirming as we realise this is what it means to be human, especially when he finds the ‘t-shirt under the bed’.
The Drums gives us plenty of that indie guitar jangle of Postcard records. Tracks like ‘Under The Ice’ do sound like The Trash Can Sinatras transferred to LA. What distinguishes the music is the addition of electronic randomness, the individual quirkiness that you can include when you are doing a record by yourself. ‘Heart Basel’ and ‘Your Tenderness’ seem to have everything from wobble boards and saxophones, to percussion and eighties’ computer games on them.
‘Abysmal Thoughts’ and ‘I’ll Fight For Your Life’ are both melodically eclectic. The instruments are as disordered and chaotic as Pierce’s thoughts. Yet, somehow, it all works together. The Drums perfectly captures the feeling of displacement when your love and commitment just aren’t enough. It is difficult not to be charmed.
The Drums. Just try resisting.
Abysmal Thoughts will be released on 16th June 2017 through Anti- Records.