Seattle-based trio The Pharmacy have made a long road trip across the U.S. and Britain to pick up musical influences from several different decades, blending them together and dousing them in noise rock to carve out Spells, their fifth full-length release in 12 years of activity.
Prevailing elements on this record are a mix of garage and pre-Britpop UK bands, but the decade of choice for this band is undoubtedly the ‘60s. Whereas fellow West Coasters The Brian Jonestown Massacre gave neo psychedelia a more somber and unstable tone, The Pharmacy have sought with this record to be more faithful to the flower power tradition—if only with a more alternative edge.
There’s a bit of everything in this unrefined mix of garage pop and psychedelia. Tracks like “Dead Friend,” along with the concise mid-album break “Cool Calm,” are reminiscent of ‘80s bands like The La’s that sought to imitate the ‘60s, while songs like “Coat Tails” and “Anna Bella” sound heavily like reworkings of scrapped demos from an old San Francisco band, but stand up to quality control when mixed in with the rest of the album.
All things considered, this is a rather enjoyable piece of hazy nostalgia that almost escapes being heavily outdated. Exceedingly limber and almost unbalanced in its delivery, both vocal and instrumental, it all somehow fits in quite nicely; nothing ever really steps out of line with the rest. The Pharmacy are not the first group to revamp the ’60s sound, but a tip of the hat goes to them for being daring enough to faithfully reproduce it while giving it a very personal touch, without sounding monotonous, unoriginal, or doing an awful Beatles rip-off.
In A Word: Retro