Lovedrug – Pretend You're Alive (2004)

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I found myself pleasantly surprised by the majority of Lovedrug’s debut, Pretend You’re Alive. With no idea what I had in store, I popped the disc into my computer for the first of quite a few enjoyable spins.

Michael Shepard’s vocals at times call to mind, in tone only, of bands like Coheed & Cambria and The Mars Volta — that quivery, higher-register yawp that seems to have become the norm for many of the newer bands, mixed with, oddly enough, the odd, dramatic vocal hiccups and twists diminutive Icelandic yelper Bjork pioneered.

The music reflects bits of early U2, Bends-era Radiohead, and even vaguely recalls Jeff Buckley in its pensive, yearning ways, and, for those who enjoy the sort of thing, Coldplay (count me as one who really doesn’t). This last comparison is a frustrating realization — for all the energy, inventiveness and thought they put into their more upbeat songs, they turn around and waste both their and the listener’s time trying to replicate the kind of repetitive, mawkish, and, worst of all, predictable melodrama that Coldplay has made a specialty.

It’s a real shame, because the rest of album that surrounds the heavy-lidded, shuffle-footed piano ballads (the title track, “Down Towards The Healing,” short closer “Paper Scars”) is quite catchy, intelligent, and fun. Don’t let that discourage you from checking these guys out: They’re worth taking a shot.

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