On Brutalism, Jonny Pierce continues the self-reflection and self-healing he began on Abysmal Thoughts, which, thanks to the ways his music grew to accommodate more complicated emotional states, was a breakthrough album for the Drums in more ways than one. As part of the healing process, Pierce collaborated with outside musicians on Brutalism and brought in Chris Coady to mix the album. With a bigger creative team supporting him, Pierce takes inspiration from his longtime affection for synth pop and electronic music, letting the shiny production and instrumentation act as candy-coated armor for his musings on love and lust. It's a notably different approach from Abysmal Thoughts' cloistered indie pop, yet Pierce sounds just as self-aware as he deals with the aftermath of his divorce and the frustrations of relationships, especially the one he has with himself. "Maybe I know too much about the world/Or about myself," he sings over brassy synths on "Body Chemistry"; later, the restless beat of "Loner" mirrors the impersonality of hookup culture. As on the Drums' previous album, Brutalism showcases Pierce's knack for portraying the thrilling and terrifying sides of romance and juxtaposing joyous moments with devastating ones. "I bet my life on one kiss," he sighs on the witty, heartfelt title track, which feels like a prelude to Brutalism's euphoric finale "Blip of Joy." The album's finest song, however, is "Nervous," an acoustic lament that captures the tiny yet unforgettable details of saying a final goodbye to an ex. Moments like these prove that Pierce's soul-baring is paying off in music that allows him to express himself to the fullest on the way back from heartache.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares