Like a kid at Christmas I waited. Each morning the post lady was enthusiastically met at the gate before anything that wasn’t CD shaped was all but ignored.
Then it came. The latest offering from The Chemistry Set a band that, back in June 2009, had me raving excitedly in these Eurorock pages as I reviewed their superb album Alchemy #101.
Sure enough it still gets played to death in these parts. It’s richly chiming guitars, it’s impossibly catchy hooks, its lovingly crafted memorable feel-good qualities all made it an immediate hit here.
The new album arrived with some sound advice contained within its title, This Day Will Never Happen Again, a simple yet profound mantra for life. There are, of course, some days you are happy to see the back of but the day that it arrived most definitely wasn’t one of them.
It has been released on Dead Bees a French indie label which came to life in 2003. The Chemistry Set has a far longer history of course. During the late 80s “neo psychedelic wave” the London band were given regular airplay on the late great John Peel radio show.
They made the indie top 20, appeared on television, got a hand written fan letter from Mr. Peel himself, and embarked on a worldwide tour. After all this frenetic activity they took “a bit of a hiatus.” This lasted until their previously unreleased 1989 album Sounds Like Painting was downloaded over 10,000 times.
It was time for something new and Paul Lake and David McLean set to work on a mini album Alchemy #101. It proved to be a richly multi-coloured musical triumph. It had me drooling phrases such as “pure nectar”, “magical psychedelic sparkly dust”, and “dripping in honeyed quality.”
Within weeks word spread and the track “Regarde Le Ciel” was chosen by Bob Paterson of Americana Radio as his “song of the year”, and the band was being played in Japan, across the whole of Europe, USA, Canada, and Scandinavia.
So could this one live up to such a rich flavoured heritage? I could end the review here and now with the simple but resounding word “yes” but I guess there are some that may want more detail.
They returned again to their laboratory on an island in the middle of the River Thames during the freezing cold month of January 2010 to begin recording. The album opens with the rather appropriate “El Returno.” It has that huge chiming 12-string Rickenbacker ringing out its warm welcome.
2010 also saw the bands first live gig in 18 years. They teamed up with one of Europe’s most influential European indie club DJ’s Gato who quickly proved capable of solving the problem of how recreate the cascading depths of psychedelic radiance in a live environment. As a result they played the Razzmatazz in Barcelona in February.
The sell out gig was attended by fans from as far away as Sweden and the UK. The partnership with DJ Gato has resulted in them remixing several more tracks for a CD to be released later this year (2010).
This Day Will Never Happen Again features 14 tracks that include several covers delivered and wrapped within the familiar trademark Chemistry Set glow. Del Shannon and Carl Perkins’ “Silver Birch” arrives with full on symphonic brilliance. They even weave in section from The Electric Prunes “Sanctus” from the 1968 album Mass In F Minor. It’s a musical labyrinth of psychedelic pleasures.
“We Luv You” is a cover of a Stones single which dates back to 1967 recorded during Their Satanic Majesties Request sessions . Here it arrives with a fresh coat of colour and life.
However good these are it is the craft within their own songwriting that really lifts this band onto such a high platform. Confirming the belief that music of this quality just doesn’t date they serve up an album alive with a magical and timeless atmosphere. It shimmers, jangles, and rings within a vibrant kaleidoscope of hypnotically entrancing sound.
Occasional Syd Barrett quirkiness, sits alongside Beatles inspired magnificence, Byrds flavoured Rickenbacker, and splashes of The Stone Roses. Having said that this can only be by The Chemistry Set who, in true alchemist tradition, have taken a sprinkling of each and mixed them together to create something quite extraordinary.
The memorable “She’s Taking Me Down”, and “If Rome Was Meant To Fall” are pure timeless Byrds. Meanwhile, “Seeing Upside Down” plants itself deeply into your mind, as does “Sheer Tazer Law”, and the psychedelically mellow “The World Is Hollow And I Touched The Sky”. The title track arrives coated with a late 60s flavoured jangling classiness.
“Look To The Sky” justifies my previous Syd comparison with a beautiful merry-go-round of quintessentially English eccentricity. It’s a psychedelic pop masterpiece that glows with a quality that only the very best can produce seemingly at will. It runs like a layer through rock for the rest of this magical album.
For admirers of any of the above, The Byrds, Electric Prunes, psychedelic pop, or those who simply love living, this is the album for you. So dig your Chemistry Set out and play with it. This shouldn’t be missed.
Follow this link to The Chemistry Set’s MySpace page for more details.