DRUGSTORE White Magic For Lovers (Roadrunner)

Drugstore’s second album, somewhat belatedly released after the collapse of their old record label Go! Discs, neatly shows up what exactly is wrong with the second Garbage album. Where "Version 2.0" aspires to be some kind of vacuum-sealed, perfectly formed and bug-free product, "White Magic For Lovers" aims much higher than that, and is consequently much easier to make allowances for when the reality fails to measure up to the intention.

The key difference between Garbage and Drugstore, I’d say, is that Garbage are ‘cool’ and Drugstore have ‘flair’. You can hear it in Brazilian-born vocalist/bassist Isabel Monteiro’s breathy and exotic diction, the way the band seem to cram half-a-dozen different (albeit slightly underwritten) melodies into the space of a four-minute pop song without it sounding like some kinda Beefheart or ISB tanglethon, or even the fact that they have a full-time cellist amongst their number. They are masters of the slightly battered and frazzled epic, and in being so you feel that "White Magic For Lovers" is a people album; by contrast Garbage look even more like purveyors of imacculately programmed machine music.

Truth to tell, the main point of interest for me and many others here will be the Thom Yorke collaboration (and recent single) "El President". Yorke does his blank-eyed, unblinking ‘aliens are after me’ schtick that was all over "OK Computer" for a couple of verses, the result being not the finest thing on the album, but it was nice of him to bother. Better bits for me include the mellower and more reflective title track and the 4-track-recorded "Tips For Travelling", but nothing here is less than competent, not even the obligitary hidden extra track. Sneered at by many (mystelf included) as second-rate indie chancers before now, "White Magic For Lovers" firmly establishes Drugstore as a band to watch. And if you haven’t bought the new Garbage album (which, let’s be honest, if you have the old Garbage album you’ve already got) redirect your record tokens towards this; I think you’d enjoy it.