Just over a year ago, Brooklyn's The Drums released debut album The Drums and became the coolest new-wave surf-pop group of 2010 (or at least the month of June). They made indie-pop look easy, creating an infectious cross-over of sun-spattered melodies and sombre bass grooves that channelled melancholy in all its grand, self-indulgent guises. Singer Jonathan Pierce dressed moronically but sang with an earnest desperation that evoked Morrissey and Brian Wilson in equal measure. The music sounded a bit like early Cure, inflected with splashes of euphoric Californian harmony. Indeed, The Drums was one of those big records, comparable to Silent Alarm or Turn On The Bright Lights, that inadvertently signposted the way forward for a generation of indie-wannabes. And like those records, it demanded a speedy, comparable follow-up, which, for the most part, new release Portamento delivers.

Most Drums fans will already have thrashed first single 'Money,' a straightforward pop number that gets in and out in under four minutes, but lingers in your head for some time afterwards. Here, Pierce channels the same self-effacing irreverence that fuelled last year's smash 'Let's Go Surfing,' and while it's likely that record labels are banking on similar success, it’s pretty basic stuff. Album opener 'Book of Revelation' is a much better re-introduction to The Drums, featuring an emotive lyric that pleads for atheistic romance – “I’ve seen the world/ And there’s no Heaven and no Hell” – culminating in a mischievous pick-up line – “I believe that when we die we die/ So let me love you tonight.” In following track ‘Days,’ Pierce achieves a rousing devastation, lamenting that “the days go by/ And I never needed you,” while the band builds on a recurring bassline.

For the most part then, it’s business as usual, although there are touches of experimentation that offset Portamento’s new-wave tone and provide insights into where The Drums may be headed. ‘I Need A Doctor’ begins with clipped math-rock bass, handclaps and and glitchy synths that perfectly suit Pierce’s disjointed vocal, while ‘In The Cold’ is accompanied by a haunting soundscape of guitar distortion reminiscent of Jonny Greenwood.

In spite of these flourishes, Portamento lacks the dreamy harmonies that so characterised their thrilling debut, and instead focuses more attention on honing the dark, reverb-soaked melancholy that was one-half of the original sound. It’s intelligent, sorrowful pop that sounds a treat on headphones in a dark bedroom, but it’s less likely to tear up the dancefloor, or to soundtrack the summer, and might leave more than a few Drums fans scratching their heads.