For those who grew up listening to The Drums, Brutalism does not disappoint. It’s Jonny Pierce’s solo project now, carrying on what used to be a full band. Brutalism strays from sunny vibes of previous albums but sticks with a distinct pop sound. It’s hard to pick a favorite song, as all of them evoke a unique mood. Pierce remarkably ties it all together with an underlying story about platonic or romantic relationship dynamics.
I’ve been listening to “626 Bedford Avenue” on repeat since it came out. It was a great choice for a tone setter, as it hones in on a relatable theme with an infectious groove. Pierce muses about the people to whom we shouldn’t return, but often end up doing so anyway—showing up on their doorstep at odd hours of the night ready to make the same mistakes. It disguises this cycle of mistakes as an an upbeat synth-pop song, making for a completely different listening experience depending on whether lyrics or instruments are spotlighted. The lyrics take a darker, more realistic path, while the music seems to egg on the temptation to focus on the short term fix that comes from toxic romance.
“Kiss It Away” is another standout cut, packed with nostalgic themes and imagery. Its soothing sonics create a feeling of instant relief —like a parent’s kiss treating a child’s playground-scraped knee. It also ties this concept back to the present, shedding light on the desire to find someone who soothes your pain in a way similar to that childhood feeling of unconditional love.
“Body Chemistry” has The Drums’ classic ’80s disco sound. Pierce explores a scientific side of emotions, as the title suggests. The opening verse grapples with the idea of depression. Is the protagonist really depressed, or does he know too much? There’s always another suggestion for trying to deal with inner pain, but he’s looking for more than a quick food. This song delves into issues that superficial ideas just won’t fix, exploring the feeling of isolation even in a room full of people. The music still has that upbeat sound that The Drums are known for, but Pierce has taken a much darker turn even longtime fans couldn’t expect.
Closer “Blip Of Joy” provides a beautiful end to Brutalism. It paints a picture of having your first kiss—that mix of excitement and nerves resulting in that romance novel firework moment. It leaves listeners on a hopeful note, which makes you want more. It’s a harmonious dream-pop song that takes you back to your first love, filled with happiness, nostalgia and adventures.
For those who grew on The Drums as a band, or even newcomers to Pierce’s work, Brutalism provides a powerful, yet catchy summation chock full of emotional depth. Imbuing each song with a unique flavor, Pierce proves he can fully take the helm without losing The Drums’ impactful songwriting. His infectious tunes pave a scenic path through relationships and their ever-changing dynamics.