Mallory Knox, Lower Than Atlantis, Lonely The Brave and now The Alchemy?
The first three bands named there are Alt-Rock bands who have all broken through in relatively recent times and all did so with a similar blueprint. Huge, anthemic choruses with beautifully polished and slick production. The result of this success, of course, is that there are hundreds of bands lined up behind them trying to do the same; so are The Alchemy next in line?
Chemical Daydream is the band’s first full length album and while there’s obvious potential there, it doesn’t fully convince. The opening trilogy of ‘Take Me Alive,’ Diamond Bones’ and ‘Better The Devil You Know’ are all top quality tracks but aside from a few flashes later on, they are the definite highlights.
The problem isn’t that the other tracks on the record are bad, they’re not by any stretch, everything just feels a little formulaic. And you get the feeling that you’ve heard it all before. There are moments when things are shaken up a bit with tracks like ‘A Slave To Gravity’ and ‘We’re All Just Criminals’ where the guitars are grittier and the songs sound a little edgier but they are the exception rather than the rule.
Having said all of that the one track where the Canterbury boys really switch things up is ‘Intertwined’ and that doesn’t click at all. It’s slow, one paced, spaced out and atmospheric and to be blunt, doesn’t really go anywhere. It just floats along. Being so different to the rest of the album, when you listen to the whole thing as one cohesive project, it doesn’t seem to fit.
It might sound like a contradiction, but the band really are at their best when they nail those melodic verses and smash out the mega anthemic choruses. ‘Better The Devil You Know’ and the title track are as good as anything you’ll hear all year. When the band hit their stride the results are stunning, and that’s what makes Chemical Daydream such a frustrating project. It feels and sounds like the band found a style that suited them and stuck religiously to it, and the result is something that feels very safe. The album won’t set the world on fire, but it won’t upset anyone either.
At its peak Chemical Daydream is British rock at its absolute best. The problem is that after that the band’s refusal to deviate from the winning formula holds the rest of the album back. As a result, the record is safe and solid. Nothing more, nothing less. The Alchemy are a band with undoubted potential, but unfortunately that potential isn’t quite realised here.