Lovedrug, Wild Blood
Every band has a story, and the most important part of any story is when the main character finds him- or herself in a place where they must move forward or give up.
For Lovedrug, that could have been a number of places. Maybe after their van and trailer was stolen and later found gutted and burnt. Maybe after their label went bankrupt, or when that one guy invented Napster. We’ll never know.
But after the release of the band’s third LP, The Sucker Punch Show, the band had had enough. They dropped their label and launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of their fourth LP. The campaign was met with great success, so in preparation for the record’s release, the band self-recorded and released four EPs and chose Paul Moak (Third Day, Mat Kearney) to record their full-length. The final product was Wild Blood.
The name Wild Blood presupposes elements of the untamed and undomesticated, the savage, the carnal, the lifeblood—a mixture of raucous indignation and freedom (some of which we heard on the album’s preceding EPs). Instead, at first look, Wild Blood sounds like a cautious and yielding pop-rock record, not the portrait of a band who now rules their realm with an iron scepter, throwing the label suits into the snatching cold of the Midwest winters.
Despite the irony of the name and its best efforts to fit alongside the book titles at the nearest Urban Outfitters, Lovedrug knew what they were doing when they wrote Wild Blood. It's a rock-and-roll record wrapped in a neat, pop-sounding shell. Although Moak’s production would fit better on a Ryan Cabrera record, that does little to conceal the fact that the collection of songs that make up Wild Blood are absolutely fantastic.
The album’s opener and title track fits somewhere in the cobwebs between Kings of Leon and The Fray, with Shepard’s earnestness as evident as he ever as he sings We’ll fight the hipster hell / We’ll soak it all in gasoline. Although his mouse-like croon that made the band’s past releases so memorable is absent, you can tell something else is going on here; the band’s self-described “cloud rock” has vanished into vapor. Songs like “Ladders” and the Snow Patrol-esque “We Were Owls” showcase guitarist Jeremy Gifford’s pretty guitar work—imagine The Joshua Tree circa 2012. These songs are triumphant in a different way. There is little semblance to the giant mysteriousness of Pretend You’re Alive and Everything Starts Where It Ends. The closest the album comes to the band’s ethereal past are “Great Divide” and the record’s best, “Revival,” both with little revelation of the band’s tendency for transcendence.
Outside of the semi-weird “Pink Champagne” and the token acoustic ballad “Girl,” most of the other songs seem to slide into the realm of satisfying pop-song—but it's OK. The album’s closer, “Anodyne,” finds Shepard in love, as he sings "I’ll be your drug if you need it."
Indeed, at its innermost, Wild Blood is a love song. On the chorus of the title track, Shepard confesses, We’re crying out honestly / This blood will set us all free. Perhaps in the wake of the life of being a band, Lovedrug have found that a certain “wild blood” exists in us all. And it’s with this realization that the title fits perfectly: to live with the tendency to love with the wildest of intentions and to fight with the fiercest of resolve.
Chris Lehberger is a writer living in Pittsburgh. He likes music, literature and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He blogs at www.thezeitgeistofdominiquefrancon.blogspot.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @chrislehberger.