Type: Post-Emo Indie Rock, Brit Rock
If you like: Sunny Day Real Estate, Radiohead, Oasis
It seems like recently I have been running into a lot of great progressive rock sounds coming out of the Great Lakes Region: bands like Sleeping At Last, Over the Rhine, and now, Lovedrug. There must be something flowing out of those lakes that I need to get a hold of.
Lovedrug is a band that has decidedly taken a step forward in originality and creativity. At the first pop of Michael Shepard’s high-toned vocals, one might recognize a more radio-friendly Sunny Day Real Estate influence, with the dream-like ambiance of a band like Radiohead. For those not that familiar with either of these sounds, I might describe Lovedrug as indie rock band with Brit rock tendencies (think back to such bands as Oasis) and a very intentional focus on the atmosphere or mood of each track. With most songs being led by driving rock rhythms and emotional melodies, Michael Shepard’s voice is uniquely toned so that there is not much comparison to that which you might find on popular radio. It’s high melodic tone comes in and out of focus on the songs (in a good way) relative to that of the instrumental accompaniment of electric guitar, drums, base and piano, allowing for a steady balance between all elements of the song. On one song the listener might be moved by the emotional stylings of the vocals, and on a separate track, find yourself looking forward to and drumming along with the instrumental breaks on your steering wheel.
I would say that one of my only reservations for fully recommending this album for everyone to go out and buy is that it is certainly not an album you would want to pop into your CD player to gain some encouragement. Their lyrics, most poetically crafted, contain dark imagery, and obviously deal with real issues and emotions that the band has struggled with and desire to make known. They move their audience to search out the meaning and heart of the songs, and many times challenge you to the reality that you too have felt these very same things before. Michael Shepard, previously fronting a band very open about their relationship with God, now laces his spiritual themes with what at times appears to be a more of a “gritty” worldview that deals with issues that many “Christian” artists may choose to avoid, for better or worse. One thing you will not find these artists promoting is a plastic life of social denial, but rather a brutal honesty of their reaction to the world they live in. Yet somehow, as the album closes with the track “Paper Scars,” it leaves this listener wistful and at peace.
Musically, these guys will pull you into the experience that is Lovedrug, and leave you wondering how many months it will be until these guys become a household name for an emerging genre that has spent far too long on the outskirts of mainstream industry. With that in mind, they are not the feel-good band that you have been recently looking for to quiet and encourage your heart on a dark night. Their lyrics may force you to consider your own state of being, and perhaps even force you to think about things that are easy to lock away and dismiss. Whether that’s good or bad, you decide.