Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Wild Blood

Lovedrug.  Wildblood.
Street Talk Media, 2012.  Website:

When I brought this album up in my ITunes player Lovedrug was classified as a “punk” band in the far column. As a fan of punk music this was exciting but after consuming Wild Blood from start to finish I don’t know that the all-knowing ITunes has this classification quite correct. Wild Blood is less of a punk album and more of a melodic throwback to early 2000s alternative. It shares more with Our Lady Peace than The Dead Kennedys. Wild Blood possesses the rarity of young sound with pure comfort. Lovedrug has been together since the early 2000s and is very comfortable with their sound. 

The title track is an anthemic tune that shares some commonalities with the later work of Hanson. The song has a positive team spirit vibe reassuring the listener that wild blood will set us all free. By the conclusion of the song I found myself a believer in this new revolution that called for the end of “hipster hell.” Unfortunately for Lovedrug they might find that a large percentage of their fanbase may be drinking the hipster Kool-Aid. The refrain is simple but that doesn’t take away from the solid structure of the song. The guitar work is classic and simple and the vocal tone blends with the surrounding instruments in a way that creates almost a choral quality.

This vocal blending is found throughout the album and is both good and defeatist. In certain instances it might have been a better choice to turn up Michael Shepard’s microphone. On the track “Dinosaur,” which is probably the weakest song of the lot, the vocals bleed into the drums and a lot of the meaning is lost. The intention might to create a distance from the audience like a dinosaur would be but it might be a bit too literal for the delicate nature of the lyrical content. It was harder to decipher a meaning from the delivery than any of the other tracks.

Most of the tracks contained simple guitar openings which are strong but a tad repetitive song after song. But some tracks stand out and on their own with luminescence. “Premonition” is a good love song, the sort of song that would find itself onto a mix for those who have newly fallen in teen love, and should probably be used for a heavy make out sequence in a film. It’s a versatile song that’s catchy without being sickly sweet brain candy--a pleasure to have stuck in your head like a new lover you keep running into on the street.

“Pink Champagne,” besides being the name of a stripper, is a little limited lyrically but a solid jam tune. “Girl” is the first slow song on the album and felt the most out of place in the lineup. It’s the first slow song on the record, which showed restraint since most bands make their second song a dreary, strung out, solemn affair, but this one almost felt like filler. The guitar has a lovely lullaby quality and the harmonies are excellent but there’s a generic spa background loop that feels a bit like putting whale calls over “Angie.” The bridge is a nice break in the work but the ending line of chorus “you’re my girl” left this girl wanting more from her love song.

Not to rag too hard but “Ladders” is a great division in the album and everything after it is more experimental and a little louder and messier. It’s a nice evolution and “Ladders” stands out with its freer guitarwork and possesses flavors of U2 and Coldplay without going overboard and becoming irritating. It’s a great song almost to the point that it would have made a better title track and focal point.

“Your Country” employs political message and power. Considering it’s an election year it would make a good tune for entrance music. Someone call Sherrod Brown. The lyrics are uncomplicated but effective and a good grounding song in the overall work.

The album concludes on an airy love song which is a nice place to end. This is a strong and well placed album with some stylistic choices I would have made differently. But every choice made seems conscious and in fitting with the sound. I would suggest that on Lovedrug’s next album they let themselves get a little messier and-well- a little more punk. I would be fascinated to see what their more experimental works would produce. I

Performers: Michael Shepard (vocals, guitar, piano), Jeremy Gifford (guitar, synthesizer, piano, BGV), Thomas Bragg (bass), James Freshwater (drums)
Tracks:  Wild Blood, Dinosaur, Premonition,Pink Champagne, Girl, Ladders, Great Divide, Your Country, We Were Owls, Revival.

Lauren Parker

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