This Is My Drug Hell – LP Reviews
Ptolemaic Terrascope (UK)
Once in a while something comes along which you just know is really special. Whether it is a book that has you mesmerised from cover to cover, someone you meet, or even a rather exceptional portion of fish and chips, when the chips are cooked just right and the batter is crispy and golden-you just know that whatever form it has chosen to take, it has quality and greatness stamped all over it. This album is one of those things.
My Drug Hell are a London based trio utilising the much loved guitar, bass and drums line-up who have released an absolute classic album, each song has been lovingly crafted and marvellously executed in gloriously rich analogue tones. Recorded at the completely digital free, valve heaven of Toe Rag studios in London, the songs have completely lost that ‘crisp round the edges’ overcooked sonique that typifies modern digital recording techniques and as a result, have been lifted into another dimension. Warm, rounded bass lines, beautifully toasted drums and a great oven baked guitar and vocal sound all add to the album’s ‘timeless’ atmosphere that is usually reserved for precious artefacts like old Blue Note records, early Bert Jansch recordings and 60’s Kinks albums. This is actually a good reference point in which to start, for these guys have distilled that 60’s UK beat/pop essence which firmly embraces the Beatles, The Kinks and The Pretty Things as well as possessing the spirit and spark of lesser known acts like The Smoke, The Poets and in places, even elements of legendary freakbeat hooligans Wimple Winch. Don’t get me wrong-these guys aren’t just pulling off a straight retro snapshot of that era-they have injected a certain something which brings their sparse, simplified beauty bang up to date with the times. Green Pajamas fans will love this to death.
The album kicks straight in with the frantic rocker ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ and follows on with ‘2am’, a hook laden power pop track which grooves the verses along with a stoned staccato guitar line. ‘You Were Right, I Was Wrong’ gallops along nicely, having one of those pleasantly annoying song structures that reminded me of a clutch of other songs from my distant memory, but strangely enough, I was unable to lay a recognisable finger on any one of them-a good sign if I may say so. Spooky. There’s really not one bad track on this record; the songs are all great. Each one is a stripped down pop nugget that sticks straight to your brain. Simple and effective. ‘Maybe We Could Fly’ is another absolute diamond of a track. A mellow shuffling bossa nova flavoured guitar strum through a lonesome valley, strewn with the lyrics of a doomed love; the flavour of the tune nicely complemented with some foot tapping drum rhythms and some exquisitely well crafted guitar hooks. Flip over the vinyl and the kicking drive of ‘Jinx’s Hole’ comes at you all bitter and twisted, with more great hooks to keep everyone on the boil. ‘For Your Eyes’ is a sizzzling slab of funky wah wah and the rockin’ tongue in cheek rant of ‘Teen Psycho Nightmare No. 99’ could be about-brace yourself kids-drugs. Fabulous. The album closes with the absolutely god-like ‘She Flies So High’, a sublime, pastoral stroll through green fields on long forgotten stoned summer afternoons. Languid strokes of slide guitar adding lazy atmospherics to the overall sound. Simplicity is the key here. Less is definitely more.
The fourth track on the album, the sumptuously whimsical, ‘Girl At The Bus Stop’ should have you staring nostalgically into space with a dreamy smile-it has a certrain naivety and charm which is instantly appealing. Oh, yeah, if it sounds familiar, it’s the same track used on the Miller beer advert, but don’t take any notice of that. If the song excerpt from the ad helps them amass the money to create more marvellous albums like this, then surely nobody’s going to be as shallow and ignorant as to dismiss them as “cashing in” or whatever, (insert derogatory phrase like “sell out” or something similar here…..). You usually find that these phrases are only used by music snobs who become miffed when some of the nice obscure music that they like (and maybe nobody else has heard) suddenly becomes available for mass enjoyment. Thus rendering them unable to quote the band’s name or song ever again while engaged in “muso” conversation, for fear of being labelled as liking something “mainstream” or “popular” to which, horror of horrors, the rest of the population also have access. It’s a funny old world. Don’t worry about it though, just go out and buy this album and give yourself a break.