Some bands cannot escape the Coldplay umbrella. They exist in this existential and all-encompassing aura of being “similar to Coldplay” yet unable to extend their sonic qualities to the masses in comically large arenas and amphitheaters. I guess articles like this one aren’t helping the case, causing the comparisons to remain even more in light. Yet, here I am trying to prove a point. What exhausting burdens are held when a band is constantly under the shadow of a much larger one? When their sound is undoubtedly attributed to another’s, and when their success is partly based on the others?
Sometimes, it isn’t so cut and dry, but sometimes it is. Lovedrug is an entirely competent band. Their mix of sentimental balladry and pure indie rock riffing makes for a satisfying albeit slightly conventional sound. Lovedrug recently released their fourth studio album, Wild Blood. It refines a lot of the weird eccentricities from their third full-length, while reigning in the sprawling nature of their second album. For most, this means nothing. All that is truly needed to get a solid grasp on ‘Wild Blood’ is that Lovedrug are totally cool with being Coldplay Jr.
Lovedrug is Michael Shepard with vocals, guitar, and some piano work; Jeremy Gifford guitar and synthesizer; Thomas Bragg on bass; and James Freshwater on the always necessary rock band ingredient, the drums.
The songs play on touching sentimentality, and a nervous sort of energy, most effectively harnessed in the vocals of front man Michael Shepard. Beyond this “acquired taste,” Lovedrug is by the books alt-rock. Their sound acquisitions from many indie rock groups into a blended “Lovedrug” mix that adds that cup of distilled water.
The point herein is that Lovedrug are by no means a bad band. Their effectiveness with the instruments channels a certain energy that is appealing and attractive. Their grossly limited originality leaves listeners already warm to their stylistic choice, and apt to enjoy them based on a certain level of associative comfort. Songs like ‘Pink Champagne’ are sprinkled with Oasis-inspired hooks, and ‘Girl’ has dance grooves and a running bass line that gives the song a sort of methodical groove that works brilliantly in indie rock pubs across the globe.
Yet Lovedrug, for all their competence and skill, are about as interesting as, well, distilled water. The taste is there, though slightly off-putting. It’s healthy, though doesn’t do much to make you want to come back. Like Coldplay, like a gray cat or the worst Rolling Stones album- Lovedrug are sweet, sensible, and appropriate- but they do very little to shake the very foundation of artistic merits. That’s fine and super, art can just be. But art isn’t meant to just be- it’s meant to speak. Lovedrugsucceed in being music, but they come short of being anything more.
Ryan Merkel is a writer on music, pop culture, entertainment, business, and all those other fun things which make life tick. He is an entrepreneur, designer, and overall pop culture enthusiast. Ryan owns the clothing line LoveMended with his wife, which focuses on fashion and charity, as well as the music blog CultureTease. Ryan is the author of two novels, and currently lives in Florida.