Album Reviews

Unnatural Helpers: Cracked Love & Other Drugs [Album Review]

unnatural-helpers

Fronted by Dean Whitmore, Unnatural Helpers‘ percussionist and lead vocalist, the band released their LP Cracked Love & Other Drugs this week on Hardly Art. This band of musical misfits have a pretty impressive past and present, having performed in local Seattle acts as Idle Times (Brian Standeford), Charles Leo Gebhardt IV and Catheters (Leo Gebhardt), Intelligence (Whitmore himself), and Hardly Arts very own The Dutchess & The Duke (Kimberly Morrison). Collectively, they go by Unnatural Helpers, and frankly, they rock!

Aside from various releases here and there, Unnatural Helpers dished out two notable singles within the last year — one on Hardly Art about a month ago for their stellar track “Sunshine / Pretty Girls” and an infamous Sub Pop Singles Club release dubbed Dirty, Dumb & Comical. The Singles Club was rough around the edges and good in the underground lo-fi sense, packed with hefty guitars and plenty of powerful indie-rock hooks.

Cracked Love & Other Drugs follows suit, but rather than the lo-fi-ish element of the Singles Club, it has a greater element of production which fleshes out the tunes consequently. The LP opens with the edgy and noisy “I Don’t Belong To You” before launching into the single “Sunshine / Pretty Girls”, taking it up a notch. Cohesive and ripe with hooks, the song stands out among the others on the album, not because the others aren’t worthy, but because the others have a bit more grit to them. Grit that maintains the edginess of the opener. “Brave Dumb Face” has a constant bass-hook that matches the percussion perfectly, while the guitar acts almost singularly at times, freaking out on its own accord.

From the get-go, Cracked Love & Other Drugs impresses greatly, and it’s when those guitar freak-outs ring steadily (“Wayward Eve”) or between hook-y vocal phrases (“Claim It Mine”), the band is at their best. Yet the same can be said about the moments when the guitar develops an epic, strummed chord progression between the chaos (“She Was Your Girlfriend”) or the bass-line swings wild (“Head Collector”), or the percussion has that extra fill. It’s one-hundred percent, in your face awesome; and that’s a quote you can attribute to the entire album. After a few listens to Cracked Love & Other Drugs, the conclusion is simple: these guys have a pretty bright future as well. Seriously.

Download: “Girl In The Window” by Unnatural Helpers

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Download: “Sunshine / Pretty Girls” by Unnatural Helpers

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Hardly Art [CD, 2010]

1. I Don’t Belong To You
2. Sunshine / Pretty Girls
3. Brave Dumb Face
4. Brainstroke
5. Girl In The Window
6. Our Most Entitled
7. Claim It Mine
8. She Was Your Girlfriend
9. Head Collector
10. Vox Humana
11. Useful Things
12. Wayward Eve
13. The Truth About You
14. Tell Me That You Wanna
15. Every Record Straight Tonight

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