If you’ve read any music mag, newspaper or blog in the last year you’re likely to have seen at least one photo or article about, The Drums. They are, as their PR agent would have you believe, music’s next “big thing.” During the PR campaign that preceded their debut album they plastered the pages of the UK music press, at one point appearing on both the front and back covers of the same issue of The Fly. Having also featured on the front cover of NME, as the top tip for 2010, the New York four-piece would seem like a safe bet for stardom. However, signed to Island Records, who are owned by multinational conglomerate Universal Music Group,The Drums haven’t exactly been short of help. They have the money and, if you’ve seen their photos you know they have the image. In marketing terms they have the full package. There is, however, one thing missing: intelligence.

In interviews the group clearly advocate an “indie” philosophy. They say they have a fascination with simplicity and care not for traditional production values. However, the fact remains that every musical movement, including those that influenced The Drums, came about as a result of something else. Be it Punk and Thatcherism or Grunge and corporate America, purist movements have always had a cause to fight for. As The Drums freely admit to having started “without ever having learned to play [guitars]” they certainly fall into this category. But what is their cause? What are they fighting against?

The glut of overly-slick pop and R&B currently emanating from most UK radio stations appears at first to be it. But, due to their willingness to be marketed as if they were in a Top Man advert, their anti-establishmentarianism seems rather shallow. It’s all well and good to champion “straightforward music” but in a world dominated by acts like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, that hardly constitutes a revolution.

This is not to say that The Drums aren’t culturally important. They do represent an important aspect of the music industry: the fact that major labels really don’t know what they’re doing. It takes a lot of marketing money for any band to be so much in the public eye and for this to be doled out to a group who freely admit to not being able to play their instruments is depressing. You’ve got to ask yourself, how will The Drums overcome the dreaded second album syndrome? The only thing one can really say is that we’ll learn a lot from The Drums’ career. If we still care about them in a year I will eat my hat.

Advertisements