>> This is the second album that frontman Johnny Pierce has released as the only remaining original member of The Drums, and there is something new, refreshing, and attention commandeering about it. There is something clearly relevant in the tones and melodies of ‘Brutalism’ that can’t be hidden, yet it’s irreverent enough to come across as cool and unscripted. Maybe it starts with the name of the album itself, ‘Brutalism,’ and leads you on from there. The title track is a revealing and in-depth look at the raw emotion that someone truly feels. Emotions that reside at bay no matter the ebb and flow of the tidal draw which is on display affixed to catchy pop melodies. The writing seems first person and expository at the same time; Pierce lets you in and confides in you, letting you know the deepest secrets while keeping you just at arm’s length with a true feel for entertaining showmanship. It isn’t an easy task, but the songs speak for themselves. There’s something so classically nostalgic in songs like “Nervous.” It feels just like the first time you heard Big Star’s “Thirteen” but there’s a new sheen to it. It’s familiar and comforting and undeniably awesome all at the same time. The line “Being nervous around you? Oh that’s something new” isn’t necessarily groundbreaking prose, but that’s just the thing with ‘Brutalism.’ It’s already familiar enough to feel comfortable, but puts Pierce in a shiny new coat that we haven’t yet seen. He’s just being brutally honest and it allows the music to speak for itself.
The name of the album is the same from Idles first full-length release. This doesn’t mean much for the American Indie-Pop crowd but to the world of punk rock, it could have been a major faux pau. This shouldn’t matter at all really, but the title track may be the weakest on the album. Lyrically it renders but falls short of anything memorable. It’s a false start to a rather solid album and nothing that denotes the title of ‘Brutalism.’ The clean guitar and bass lines aren’t what the longtime listener may be used to and this might be a quick turn off, but “Abysmal Thoughts” might have laid just enough groundwork to ease the initial shock.
There is a feeling of commencement with this record. Jonathon Pierce is no longer The Drums but this album still has the same name. One could draw a correlation with The Replacements ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’ and then ‘All Shook Down’ to the last two Drums’ albums. Mr. Westerberg slowly turned into his own solo artist after those two records and this last one from Mr. Pierce feels All Shook Down. It raises many questions as to the fate of the band itself, now merely just a brand used for selling Pierce’s honest and open songwriting. But Pierce’s songwriting can hold up against the changing of the band’s original sound. He’s growing into something different as he matures as an artist and writer. This record is an exciting rebirth of the possibilities from a musical mind no longer tethered to what it was supposed to be. Westerberg’s best solo album was arguably his third release as a solo artist. Mr. Pierce may be in the final stages of his metamorphosis, wrapping himself comfortably into a cocoon of what is expected but beautifully poised and ready to emerge as the new and stunning star of something we didn’t expect at all. << 4.4/5