If you’re new to Drugstore (and I am) then here’s a brief history lesson. They’re labelled as a dream pop (whatever that is) band who formed in 1993 and debuted with an eponymous album which reached 31 in the UK charts…their second album from 1998, “White Magic for Lovers”, reached number 45. In total they’ve released four albums and had a top twenty single with “El President which was a duet between the band’s Brazillian singer-songwriter and bassist Isabel Monteiro and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. “The Best of Drugstore” takes, not surprisingly, songs from these albums.

I’ll be absolutely honest and say that Drugstore and associated bands of that era completely passed me by first time round and that has been somewhat remiss of me by all accounts.

“Best of…” kicks off with “Devil” and it’s a bit of shock and not what I was expecting at all – the tune starts off with Monteiro’s breathy vocals and musical textures in the background, which is what I was anticipating, before launching off into a great guitar driven pop record which I was not.

“El President” is a wonderful acoustic guitar pop record with Latin undertones and really makes me wonder just what I was up in my life to miss this lot…

“Sweet Chili” girl sounds like it should be on the soundtrack of a Tarantino flick with its spaghetti western intro and lyrically dark subject matter. It’s a sparse tune with Monteiro’s vocal juxtaposing beautifully to create a song that is uplifting and disturbing in equal measure and that really sets the tone for the rest of the record – melancholic, moving, mysterious and yet magical.

Simple arrangements are the perfect backdrop for Monteiro’s voice as on “Song for Pessoa” and Little Girl, but it would seem that Drugstore are much more than just a vehicle for her with the band bringing just as much to the show, whether it’s delicately strummed acoustic guitar or the more rock tinged “White Magic For Lovers”. “The Party’s Over” sounds to these ears reminiscent of Velvet Underground Nico period and that’s certainly a good thing!

There’s touches of country, hints of rock, snippets of folk, snatches of pop and whilst I don’t usually enjoy “Best of” albums this record’s twenty tracks do their job really well and stand as a great testament to a band that clearly deserve further exploration. The band is gigging to support this album and if I get the chance I’ll certainly popping along to see them.

Stuart

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