The Drums, Heaven, London


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It would be pretty easy to be cynical about The Drums. Four suspiciously handsome young New Yorkers with impeccable turn-ups and eerily perfect hair, they were spat into the collective consciousness some time last year and accepted without question by a baying blogosphere.

Raved about practically before they'd played a show, much less released any music, they're exactly the sort of band we should be cynical about; too many dreadful groups in the past have been foisted on us by the hype machine before we've had time to think.

The Drums are not dreadful. Far from it: they make elegant, reedy indie pop in the grand tradition of puny British bands of yore (the Eighties). Sometimes they seem a bit like a Smiths covers band and sometimes they seem a bit like a pastiche of Orange Juice. Without their obvious conviction they'd be laughed out of town, but they come off as totally legitimate, if a bit wet.

Live, however, they're something else. Frontman Jonathan Pierce sweeps onto the stage some time after the rest of his band have launched in the first song. Immediately, he's twirling like Morrissey robbed of his gladioli, and feyly if energetically humping the mic stand. This kind of behaviour continues throughout the show, as he pouts and struts and flexes across the stage, making a spectacle of himself.

The music, and his voice, are much more powerful tonight. It doesn't sound like the C86 jangle-pop of their recorded output, it's too vibrant and too vigorous. It hardly seems to be the same band playing at all, in fact. Perhaps in lesser hands, all this carrying on would be laughable. Perhaps it still is, but flanked as he is by similarly shimmying guitarists, it looks so much like he means his every daft prance that it hangs together. It's quite a surprise, actually. To look at them in their moody press shots, you wouldn't expect them to be this camply animated. It's refreshing when your cynicism turns out unfounded.