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All About Chemistry

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Album Review

Since the mid-'90s, Semisonic has been inspiring the overuse of words like "literate," "smart," and "well-written" by reviewers everywhere. All About Chemistry doesn't do anything to change that: It is a suite of 12...well, smart and immaculately crafted songs, all seemingly destined for the charts, yet also possessing enough lyrical muscle to elevate them above the level of guilty pleasure. Chemistry injects a heavy dose of piano into Semisonic's former copybook college rock sound, moving the group a few steps closer to the adult pop bracket. "Sunshine and Chocolate" is full of a sensual shimmer, borne along on a tune that is peppy in the best possible way. "Act Naturally" blends sweetness, prettiness, and heartbreak in perfect proportions. "I Wish" dissolves its thwarted desires in a slow-burning, "Layla"-esque coda. And "One True Love," written with Carole King (who also sings backup and plays piano on the track), is both slightly desolate and wholly lovely — a dream of a perfect love-to-be that also perhaps contains hints of regret for the seemingly inevitable moment when a dream is all it will turn out to be. Frontman and lyricist Dan Wilson creates interestingly human characters, people frayed by love and tossed about by contradictory impulses, not knowing what they want and wanting it all the same. Drummer Jacob Slichter proves he's no pushover in the writing department with "El Matador," a wispy and impressionistic tune that gently references Joni Mitchell while waving goodbye to the summer: "Lying on the couch defenseless/With blue clouds court and spark." Only one song feels like a dud — "Get a Grip," a charmless but ingratiating paean to self-love that, tossed off. That apart, Chemistry is almost perfectly balanced — sweet but not sugared, clever but not wiseass, crafted but not cold. [MCA issued a twelve track import edition in 2001 as well.]

Customer Reviews


This is a great band. They have the perfect sound, not too hard, not too soft. This is yet another example of why rock is better than rap. Closing Time still dominates, though, and if you are expecting more of that insane stuff dont be let down because this is not as good. It's still a great album.

el matador

jacob slichter may not be as prolific as dan wilson, but gosh darnit, he sure can write a fantastic song. "el matador," if i may be so bold, is not only the perfect closer, but it is also the perfect mellow, pensive, "lying on your bed smiling at the ceiling" tune. just buy track 12, the rest of the album's great, too, if you've got the money

Semisonic has put together a really solid soild album

Every song on this album is good, if not great. "Chemistry" is by far the best song, with "get a grip", "she's got my number", "who's stopping you" and "Surprise", not THAT far behind. The others are great too. "One True Loves", is a great love song as the title kind of implies...and so is act naturally. Anyway. If you're gonna buy just ONE'd oughta be Chemistry...but if I were you, I'd just buy the whole darn thing. It'll be worth it. Trust me.


Formed: 1995 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After the breakup of Trip Shakespeare, Minneapolis natives Dan Wilson and John Munson teamed up with drummer Jacob Slichter to form Semisonic in 1993. Trip Shakespeare had spent years amassing a loyal audience with artistic harmonies and unexpected guitar counterpoints, but bandleader Dan Wilson took Semisonic in an entirely different direction, embracing a tightly crafted sound that proved to be more appetizing to mainstream audiences. "Closing Time" was the band's biggest hit, dominating the airwaves...
Full Bio
All About Chemistry, Semisonic
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