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LIVE

The Drums

by Shaun Curran

Leading the way for a generation of American groups that are more indebted to the sounds of the U.K. than anything on their own doorstep, The Drums arrive for their first Japanese tour riding on a wave of incessant hype.

The Florida-born, Brooklyn-based four-piece have been adorned with the “next big thing” tag, having been placed in the coveted first-on-the-bill slot on January’s prestigious NME Tour, a position that in the past has been the springboard to success for Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay and Florence and the Machine.

So to the eternal question: Is the hype justified? The short answer is: For the most part, yes it is. Led by the strikingly charismatic Jonathan Pierce, The Drums may look, as Boy George infamously stated, “like four rent boys,” but their effortless style is matched only by the seeming ease in which they create their own world out of the best bits of other peoples’.

Their debut mini album, “Summertime EP,” does exactly as it suggests. Mixing their obvious love of all things early 1980s and Mancunian (the band have made no secret that they view Manchester as their spiritual home) with the good vibrations of their Californian roots, “Summertime EP” is packed with infectious, sunshine-pop tunes that marry ridiculously catchy melodies with stories of doomed relationships and personal woe. Like The Beach Boy Division, if you will.

It is a beguiling mix, perhaps best exemplified by “Best Friend,” the first single from their self-titled debut album. Over a precise, Joy Division beat, breezy keyboards and soaring chorus are juxtaposed with a lyric that talks of a close friend’s death; “The Drums” is full of such moments.

Live, they have already garnered a reputation. The songs zip along, with Pierce the magnetic focal point, often dancing like Morrissey doing his best Ian Curtis impression. Yet for all the influences-on-their-sleeve retro-ness, the sound is The Drums’ own.

The Drums play June 14 at Duo Music Exchange, Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥5,000. For further information, visit www.duomusicexchange.com or thedrums.com