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04:59 June 27  


Thu 1 Mar 2001 17:56
Released on: Mon 5 Mar 2001
SEMISONIC - 'ALL ABOUT CHEMISTRY' (MCA)
'All About Chemistry'
'All About Chemistry'
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play this media Semisonic - Chemistry
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Here's a theory for you. American college rock bands are like Marmite; you either love them or you hate them. Just think about it. Go on then, who're you thinking of? Counting Crows? Gigolo Aunts? Barenaked Ladies? Ben Folds Five? See.

Semisonic are one of those bands and 'All About Chemistry' is one of those albums. Not got anything against American college radio favourites. In fact, Counting Crows and Ben Folds Five are regular players on my stereo. Not ashamed to admit that. But don't think that means I can't spot a good, or in the case of Semisonic's third offering, bad, album when I hear one.

After last year's chart success with singles 'Closing Time' and 'Secret Smile' from the platinum selling 'Feeling Strangely Fine', 'All About Chemistry' was always going to be make it or break it time for Semisonic on these shores.

Tracks like new single 'Chemistry', with its upbeat, poppy vibe and jangly guitar, the dreamy piano-led ballad 'She's Got My Number' and the infectious 'Get A Grip', probably the only sure-fire hit on the album, are exactly the sort of songs you'd expect from Semisonic - palatable but bland easy-listening.

Although frontman Dan Wilson's voice isn't difficult to listen to, what appear to be simple and promising songs in structure are hidden behind the labour of three musicians who are trying too hard. And that's where Semisonic lose all their natural spark and vitality. As a result, 'Bed' sounds like Shania Twain, 'Act Naturally' recalls a cheesy 80s stadium rawk ballad and 'Who's Stopping You' is nothing more than a poor imitation of REM's classic 'Stand', and all are reminiscent of Tom Petty on a particularly uninspired day.

The production is impressively slick, the musicianship is easily competent and Carole King's input (co-writing and backing vocals) on 'One True Love' marks it as the album's true gem, but still 'All About Chemistry' doesn't teach us anything we didn't know about Semisonic and it isn't going to inspire anyone to find out more either.

It's a shame really because maybe if the lads had paid more attention to the chemistry between them, this could have been a great album.


Nichola Browne

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