Album Reviews

The Chemistry Set – This Day Will Never Happen Again

(Dead Bees) UK release date: 21 February 2011

In the world of music at the moment the 1980s rule supreme, be it Summer Camp‘s John Hughes indebted woozy romanticism, the likes of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and The Horrors channelling shoe-gaze or Patrick Wolf and Bright Eyes taking cues from more mainstream sources on their newest material. As such, some of the old guard have deemed it the perfect time to crawl out from under the woodwork, the most notable exponent of such tactics being Echo & The Bunnymen. But another, slightly more obscure entity, have done the same thing.

The Chemistry Set made a name for themselves throughout the 1980s, releasing records of psychedelic ’60s revivalism, and in the period were championed by the likes of Tony Wilson and John Peel. Now playing to a seemingly select fanbase (the catalyst for their reformation being the online leak of a previously unreleased 1989 album, which totted up 10,000 downloads), they can now be found releasing their first full-length album in over 20 years. A reunion of revivalists, if you will.

The album’s main fault though becomes apparent within the first few tracks. There’s a fine line between revivalism and plagiarism, and This Day Will Never Happen Again falls the wrong side of it by a considerable margin. There’s nothing wrong in wearing your influences on your sleeve, be it The Clash‘s cover versions of their favourite songs, or the recent Treefight For Sunlight record, which took the best bits of West Coast pop and added a twist or two. But this only works when you take your inspiration for songs and make them your own.

At every tune-based turn on this album, the ghosts of music past appear to rise from the floorboards. She’s Taking Me Down has the unenviable accolade of melding an intro straight from Ticket To Ride by The Beatles with a song reminiscent of an Oasis album track. Silver Birch and We Live As We Dream…Alone see The Kinks at their most laid back meeting early Pink Floyd while Elsewhere, the album’s title track along with Seeing Upside Down and If Rome Was Meant To Fall are Beatles soundalikes. The way in which the album closes, with three songs sung in foreign languages (two Spanish, one French), is as bafflingly pointless as it is annoying, given the rest of it is exclusively sung in English.

Ultimately the album sounds like little more than an average-at-best cover band taking a break from soundtracking second rate parties and school leaving balls. While the back-catalogues of The Beatles and Kinks can hardly be called second-rate, merely copying them (and not even especially well at that) results in a record that sounds laboured, unimpressive and downright uninspiring. On this evidence, what Messrs Wilson and Peel saw in The Chemistry Set remains a mystery, with the only explanation being that their form went the same way as their late, famous fans.

Instead of investing in this record, get yourself a ticket to a top Beatles cover band. It’ll work out the same sort of price, and you’ll enjoy it more.

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The Chemistry Set – This Day Will Never Happen Again