Written by: TL on 18/09/2015 13:24:08

With their newest, self-produced and self-released album "Notions", Tennessee soft-rockers Lovedrug have arrived at their fifth record since debuting with "Pretend You're Alive" in 2004, and right off the bat it channels a slightly darker vibe than the previous record, 2012's "Wild Blood". Opening with "Anthology" and "Vampire Spy Film", both slither ahead through a thick, pleasant atmosphere that makes you feel like you're listening to a more relaxed sibling in a record family that could also include Silversun Pickup's "Carnavas", Jimmy Eat World's "Futures" or Placebo's "Meds". Electronics and minimalistic guitar patterns are mixed tastefully while frontman Michael Shepard sings with his characteristically narrow and breathy, half-whispered delivery.

As soon as you arrive at third track "Ray Gun", however, traditional piano chords are given a bigger role while the melody also brightens up, bringing to light the similarity the band shares with Matchbox Twenty whenever they let some light shine into their sound. There's an all-American charm that could also bring to mind some of the trademark Goo Goo Dolls hits from the late 90s. Together these references mark the corners of a soundscape that is warm and inviting, where there's plenty of space between elements to enjoy each separate little part of the puzzle.

Things culminate after a solid salvo of opening tracks with number five, "Cult Kid", which could have been a hit on a Kings Of Leon record, via the catchy staccato rhythm and layered vocals that lift up the chorus. It is also around this time, however, that you start to notice the limit to the album's potential. Because Lovedrug stick almost invariably to a steady mid-tempo pace, and Shepard never really raises his voice, which means that the songs forego the more surging pay-off moments you otherwise expect in rock songs of most degrees of hard- or softness.

So after routinely coming off to good starts, songs also routinely start to feel a bit stale around the mark when you expect a good bridge to come in, but you kind of understand why Lovedrug have kept their foot off the gas if the result would otherwise be a song like the slightly quicker "Ready Or Not", which, despite its catchy riff pattern, is just a hokey track with some of the most meaningless lyrics you'll hear in a while. The band's coolness is lost somewhat here, just as it is when you hear a grown man sing a "Shananananana" hook in 2015 on the title track "Notions".

"One Of The Family" sounds good, however, as do "Royalty" and "Stalker", and here the band sounds most like a group that isn't quite growing out of touch as they enter their second decade of existence. That being said, while it's cool that Lovedrug do their separate thing from the slightly edgier bands we started out by comparing them to, looking that way a bit would not hurt. Because as it is, "Notions" is an album that can definitely fill your home with a wholesome, enjoyable sound, but it figures that the band's style would last longer if it included some more impactful moments and subjects. Considering it even has a song titled "The Danger Zone", you could wonder why there aren't really any zones on the release where things get dangerous at all.


Download: Cult Kid, Stalker, Royalty, Ray Gun, Stalker, One Of The Family
For The Fans Of: Silversun Pickups, Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls, Jimmy Eat World, Kings Of Leon

Release date 04.09.2015

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