Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

The Chemists: The Theories of Dr Lovelock – Review


The Chemists' The Theories of Dr Lovelock

With an album title like The Theories of Dr Lovelock from a band with a name like The Chemists, you’d be forgiven for hoping for a musical treat – a mad scientist type concoction of blended genius using a mix of styles, influences and instruments.

The five piece constructed themselves from the Bristol pub scene and have already notched up support tours with Feeder, Bluetones and The Music. What is more, this autumn sees the release of their debut album as well as a spot on Skunk Anansie’s 2009 tour. Unfortunately, all these notches on the live gig-bedpost tell a lot of what to expect from the band, because aside from The Music it’s not exactly the most revolutionary list of tour supports.

Together, vocalist Johnny Benn and the four sound a little bit emo, a little bit grunge, with a dollop of indie rock added to the mix.

The Theories of Dr Lovelock’s intro, aptly named Intro, begins the 14-tracked record with Richard E Grant’s spitting spoken verse. Without forewarning of what follows, it could easily conjure up expectations of a Pendulum or And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead sounding band.

This City and Milk and Honey immediately follow; both blistering paced rock laden tracks with catchy sing-a-long choruses to mosh to. Although where the “mamamamamama’s” came from on This City is anyone’s guess, but it was obviously a useful tool to fill the last four beats of the bar.

A Love Like No-One Else is startlingly Feeder, with some Bravery and Killers style sailing keyboard and guitar hooks as the melody setters. If you swapped Grant for Johnny there really wouldn’t be any difference between the vocals and even the song structure is almost identical, yet catchy.

More of the same high volume, high adrenaline stuff appears on Hear Our Song – an album highlight with light hearted likeability that doesn’t try to be anything else but a punky, indie pop track with all the elements that would make it palatable for commercial consumption, even if lyrics like “Because if you hear our song on the radio it makes us feel like we’re alive” feel vacuous.

Some of Dr Lovelock’s tracks – Radio Booth and Something For The Weekend to name a few -prompt memory recalls of other bands they resemble, such as Dogs’ post-punk and Foo Fighter’s riffs with husky, growling Dave Grohl vocals. Others blend into the background, not because they’re bad at all, but because it does just sound all too familiar and too faux American-accented from a band that fundamentally come from the West Country.

Although they themselves have claimed to be ‘ruthless perfectionists’, the record feels like a bit of a contradiction in terms to that ethos. It is a hefty 14-song offering, albeit including a disturbing rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic, and to that effect makes you wonder why they didn’t trim down, tighten up and spend a bit more time adding some individuality to a smaller number of tracks.

That’s not to say that anyone’s asking for the musical equivalent of discovering a new element for the periodic table, but just a little bit of fizz, a flash of light and some excitement from The Chemists would’ve been bloody lovely. After all, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

It’s so disappointing to have to give another average score for an album, as every time it happens, a little more patience and forgiving is lost due to a band’s lack of ingenuity. That said, no one should think that The Chemists are woeful – they’re not, they’re obviously alright at what they do. But when the chasm of new music out there spits out ‘meets expectations’ time and time again, not being wowed or taken aback by quality almost grates more than being appalled.

And sadly The Chemists fall into that category, because instead of creating sheer chemistry, they’re more akin to a repeat prescription, giving you more of the same tried and tested formula.


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