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The Melancholy Death Of The Chemistry Experiment

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Album Review

If "Starlite Ballroom," the opening track to The Melancholy Death of the Chemistry Experiment, sounds remarkably like the late-'80s work of bands like Prefab Sprout or the Blue Nile, there's a fairly good reason: though they've remained all but unknown for the majority of their existence, the Chemistry Experiment have actually been together for close to two decades. Recorded piecemeal over the course of five years, The Melancholy Death of the Chemistry Experiment sounds like the twee pop offspring of Talk Talk's Laughing Stock and Scott Walker's Tilt: these 11 ornately arranged tunes are a seamless song cycle incorporating smoothly orchestrated disco ("You're the Prettiest Thing"), experimental found-sound manipulations ("2:30 a.m.: Killing Puffins"), minimalist chamber pop that explodes into grand orchestral climaxes ("Thoughts on Gravity"), shimmering guitar overdubs with jazzy flute counterpoint ("Good Morning"), and anything else that captures the Nottingham band's fancy. Singer and guitarist Steven J. Kirk's voice, pitched somewhere between Walker's semi-operatic croon and the deadpan whispery baritone of Lambchop's Kurt Wagner, is both the Chemistry Experiment's most unique asset and the biggest stumbling block for those who prefer a less individualistic vocal style, but the luxuriant richness of the just-so arrangements will be greatly appreciated by fans of the sophisticated side of U.K. indie pop.


Formed: 1987

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

High school friends Archie Girlschool and Carlton Wokesley founded the Chemistry Experiment in St. Ives, in 1987, with the use of a four-track, a broken Casio keyboard, and a Spanish guitar. After recruiting flutist Calvin Pzchortsy, drummer Mathew Collins, and bassist Wilma Bear, the band became official by the end of the year with hopes of playing out of their practice space. Tragically, Wokesley lost his life after being hit by a car in August of 1987. With the remaining members continuing on...
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The Melancholy Death Of The Chemistry Experiment, The Chemistry Experiment
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