Monday, 15 August 2011

28. Drugstore - Anatomy

In this age of full disclosure I will be upfront. A few months ago Isabel Monteiro (Drugstore singer, songwriter and chief) set up a Pledge account to help fund the recording of a new album and I pledged a tiny, tiny bit of cash because I have a long history of fandom with this band. I can't claim credit for this good taste, it comes from my girlfriend. When we first got together she was regularly playing Drugstore's first album and we have followed them ever since, seeing them at various venues from York to London. Now brace yourself for a sad story. At a Christmas gig at The Garage (I think), in 2002 (maybe), in London (pretty sure about that), the band were running a raffle and my girlfriend, let's call her Anne, bought a few tickets. After a fantastic gig Ms. Monteiro announced the winners and if she called out your number you had to go up to the stage to collect your prize. I noticed Anne looking panicky as one number was repeatedly read out. I grabbed the ticket off her to see that it was her number, but it was too late, Isabel had moved on to a new number. Anne was desperate to win the prize but she'd been too shy to walk up to the stage to claim it. Why didn't she hand the ticket to me?! I know! At a later gig I managed to snaffle a handwritten set list to try and make up for it. We still have the set list, and one day will get it framed and up on the wall. All this is a long way of saying I bring baggage to this review and was very sad when the band disappeared after their 2001 album Songs For The Jet Set. That was ten years ago, and there is quite a story contained within those ten, seemingly lost years, which you can read about here.

To the album. It's always an exciting yet scary moment when a much loved artist returns - what if it's shit? What if it had been better if they hadn't bothered? There are plenty of reunions which reek of cashing in and which leave nobody convinced. Well, you can't accuse Drugstore of doing this for the cash, they've had to raise the money just to record, and thankfully, the music is beautiful. Call it alt. country or hushed, confessional pop, call it whatever you want, it's a brilliant piece of work. You may think that a band who have been away for a decade would want to kick the door in on their return, but Drugstore have gone the other way. This album creeps in and keeps creeping pretty much until the last song. This is battered, bruised, broken and then rebuilt and defiant Drugstore. And whilst the album is wonderfully recorded and produced you can thankfully still hear the intimacy of the early scruffy demos Isabel began to post online a couple of years ago, when she first began to toy with the idea of some sort of return. So it may be quiet, and at times defeated, but that it exists at all is a testimony to the strength of human spirit, the creative spirit. 'Life can break your heart, but it can make you great' she sings on Falling Rocks and I think that just about sums up the story behind this wonderful album.

Oh, and if they need to, the band should set up a Pledge account so the label can afford to nominate Anatomy for a Mercury next year (I think it's quite expensive to nominate, but I could have invented that). That would be the perfect end to this story.


  1. Drustore RULES !

  2. All your favourite albums seem to creep in.

    I can't believe how much you bum subtlety.

  3. This is Anne. Drugstore do rule. The first one wasn't Anne.