Lovedrug’s “Pretend You’re Alive,” or as I started to think of the CD, “Pretend You’re Radiohead,” has a promising first minute, but the thin, snarly vocals aren’t my cup of tea – they come across as affected, rather than animalistic a la (say) Perry Farrell or Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie. But what really bothered me is not the vocals per se but the bland melody, which undercuts the forceful mood set by the musical intro.
This is Lovedrug’s first LP, and it leans heavily on processed drums, portentious piano chords, echoey guitars and plaintively wailing lead vocals, all of which would ring a bell for any fan of Thom Yorke and Co. The band also has some kinship with more trance-y pop bands like Sunny Day Real Estate. But all of Lovedrug’s bombast and taking themselves seriously don’t make up for the generally pedestrian songwriting.
“Spiders” and “Rocknroll” both have pretty good hooks, but they are the exceptions. The piano ballads like the title track and “Down Towards the Healing” and the harder rockers like “Pandamoranda” and “Radiology” are elegant noise with little substance. There’s musicianship here, but the band can’t write great songs like Radiohead or keep the touch light like Sunny Day Real Estate, and they don’t take the modern emotive style in any interesting directions.
The sound is glossy, but lacks the spark and focus without which emotional music is merely moody. As Gertrude Stein once said of Los Angeles, “There’s no there there.” A pretty package, but poor use of resources.