This almost hurts—it really does. For awhile there, Lovedrug were one of alternative rock’s best-kept secrets: a fiery Midwestern band that could go from edgy to catchy at the drop of a hat, and their second album, Everything Starts Where It Ends, was an absolutely stunning collection of shoulda-been hits, as the group was experimental enough to use dragging chains as beats in one song and then write dynamite pop choruses only a few tracks later. It was a truly phenomenal disc, which is largely why listening to The Sucker Punch Show is so downright painful.
Everything that made the band unique and special is thrown out, immediately replaced by run-of-the-mill Modern Rock Chart clichés, the band no doubt dying for that “big hit” that has so far eluded them. There are moments in which we actually get to hear Lovedrug be great as they always are: “Broken Home” is the kind of effortless lighthearted number that will sound just as good five years down the road as it does when you hear it today, “Borrowed Legs” plays right into the midtempo balladry that the group does too well, and the slimy “Dirtiest Queen” wins with its tale of a particularly venomous woman, even if it’s chorus is a bit clunky.
Still, these tracks are the album’s few saving graces. The rest is far less thrilling: “Let It All Out” steals (way) too much from the Foo Fighters’ “Stacked Actors” samba-rock groove, “Blood Like” spends too much time on its setup to provide any real payoff, and the seven-minute epic “Panicked Witness” covers far too little ground in its extended running time, all as vocalist Michael Shepard sounds positively anemic and—worst of all—even bored at times. It’s a remarkable letdown for such a great band, but, hey, most groups are allowed at least one misstep—let’s just hope it’s Lovedrug’s only one.
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