Wild Blood

Written by: CM on 04/03/2012 22:14:24

Right from the opening guitar notes of the anthemic title track, Lovedrug's "Wild Blood" is a record that caught my attention. The band, a Canton, Ohio outfit that just celebrated their tenth anniversary last year, has put out three other albums and about a dozen EPs, but beyond an atompsheric cover of Third Eye Blind's "God of Wine" that I stumbled upon last sumer, "Wild Blood" is my introduction to them; what a killer introduction it is. The band's sound is defined by big, often almost grungy guitars, as well as by the distinctive voice of frontman Michael Shephard, equally adept at delivering softly haunting verse lines and huge, rousing choruses. "Wild Blood" generally tilts toward the latter, channelling classic rock and arena rock influences into a record full of the hopes, dreams, and endless opportunities of youth, resulting in one of the biggest sounding records I've heard so far this year. It's also one of the best, without a bum track in the bunch, and with a few gems that will almost certainly remain in fairly constant rotation for the remainder of the year.

Several of the songs on "Wild Blood," (the title track, "Premonition," "Ladders," and "Your Country," especially) sound like they were meant to be played on the highway on a sweltering summer day: this is windows-rolled-down, sun-in-your-eyes, sing-along rock 'n' roll. "Sure shot, you were always my sure shot," Shephard belts out on "Pink Champagne", surrounded by a rain of guitars and a driving drum beat that transforms the chorus into one of the album's finest. Elsewhere, "Girl" provides the album with its slowest and most pensive moment, a gorgeous acoustic love song whose chorus ("I wanna set myself on fire tonight/I spent thirty years not knowing you/I can't afford to waste more time running around the world/When all I know is you're my girl") lodged itself in my brain after a single listen. "Great Divide" is another quieter moment, accented by an entrancing electric guitar line and Shepherd's engaging vocals.

Nearly half of the tracks on "Wild Blood" have been reworked from songs that have already appeared on the band's EPs, and while this makes the album a perfect starting point for those new to the band (such as myself), it could be a source of frustration for die hard fans who come into this release looking for brand new material. That said, most of the songs that have been re-recorded ("Pink Champagne," "Ladders," "Premonition") are very welcome additions to the album, and fit perfectly amongst the more recent material. The only exception, for me, was "Dinosaur," which is hardly a bad song, but one that feels out of place, is fairly easily the weakest the record has to offer, and one that, sitting in the track 2 position, disrupts the mood and flow so perfectly established by the title track. On the other hand, "We Were Owls," the fifth (and arguably, the best) of the old songs makes up for any missteps, easily becoming one of the album's biggest triumphs. The band sounds like they are channeling the likes of Manchester Orchestra here, with Shephard sounding eerily like Andy Hull, that band's frontman, on yet another excellent chorus.

Any complaints about this record will be silenced by the end though, as Lovedrug saves their best for last in the form of the sweepingly climactic "Anodyne." Even to the ears of someone who had no experience with the band's music, the song is perfect. For as long as I can remember, I've always partially judged albums on the strength of their closers, and it's not a rare occurance for the final moment to be my favorite on any given record. "Anodyne" flawlessly fits into the tradition, becoming an immediate contender for the song of the year title, as well as one that will almost certainly serve as the soundtrack for countless moments in my life over the next few months. Distorted guitars compliment Shephard's emotional vocals, building to a bridge that is nothing short of sublime. "Black is the rain when it's washing away/All of our sinners and saint's delight," Shephard sings, roaring through the lines as the album's remaining seconds dwindle and dissolve around him. "Bathe if you want, there is always some more/If you need, if you want..." It's a chilling moment right from the first listen, and it does exactly what it's supposed to do: it makes the listener want to flip the record over or hit replay so that they can just experience the entire thing over again. That's a surefire sign of a great album, and "Wild Blood" is one of the best that 2012 has had to offer thus far: clearly it's about time I took a trip through the Lovedrug back catalog.

Download: "Anodyne," "Girl," "Premonition"
For The Fans Of: The Killers, Manchester Orchestra, Jimmy Eat World

Release Date 06.03.2012
Street Talk

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