The idea of mournful lyrics buoyed by joyous music is an old one, going back in time to when Oog beat frantically on a rock while yelling about his pet mastodon running away. Folks tend to point to the Beach Boys as the modern masters of this style, but that outlook neglects such earlier iconic acts as Dion and Del Shannon. Unlike the Drums' '60s-obsessed peers, the Brooklyn foursome takes inspiration from these and other '50s artists, choosing falsetto backing vocals, giddy handclaps, and echoey rumble over multilayered jingle-jangle.
The Drums' debut EP, Summertime!, captures the same tart/sweet dichotomy of classics like "Runaround Sue," offering angry lyrics like "Summer's just beginning, baby/I might learn to hate you, lady/One minute you're acting crazy/ I might have to hate you, baby" (from "Saddest Summer Ever") over euphoric backing tracks. Plus, singer Jonathan Pierce's whooping pout of a voice makes anything -- even words like "horseshit" -- sound romantically charged. While British music rags are prone to exaggeration, it's hard not to agree with NME's assertion that this "might be the most contagiously energetic NYC band of the past 10 years."
The Drums perform at Popscene tonight alongside Annie (DJ set), 10 p.m., $10-$12,