Looking at the front of this album I had no clue what to expect from Sam Roberts. Well, I should say; I had an idea what type of music that Roberts would play but it was held back by perceptible disbelief; could someone in 2006 come out with music that recalled the rock of the sixties and seventies? It only takes a few minutes, but Sam Roberts does just that with “The Gate”. What individuals should expect during “Chemical City” is a mixture of the pop-rock of acts like the Beach Boys and The Turtles, but blended with the psychedelic flavor of Arthur Brown, Love, and The Doors.
However, Sam Roberts goes one step farther than merely being a nostalgic act when there are arrangements and allusions to styles throughout this disc to the current alternative rock scene. For example, “The Gate” links together these two past decades with the music of the nineties (Matthew Sweet) and the current decade (Modest Mouse, The Raconteurs). Since individuals have an idea exactly how the band sounds on “Chemical City”, it would make logical sense to tell potential listeners if they are any good. Remembering that this is on Universal, one should not be surprised to know that the production on this disc is amazing, and allows the diverse styles and array of sounds created by Sam Roberts and eir band to shine through without sounding unnecessarily cramped or inversely, too echoey.
Where “The Gate” was a solid start for the album, the walking bass of a track like Bridge To Nowhere” links together with the hopeful, bouncy vocal style of Roberts. “Bridge To Nowhere” may still work in the current period, but the overtures to the current period of music are much less than they are in “The Gate”. This means that “Bridge To Nowhere” is a track that could easily make it to the classic rock stations, if only it was cut about twenty-five years before this year. The disc is a great length, clocking in just under forty-eight minutes, but the replay value of “Chemical City” is so high that listeners should easily be able to keep the disc on repeat for months to come. The density of each track on “Chemical City” means that listeners will be dissecting the tracks to their satisfaction while the seasons turn like clockwork. Oh, did I say that this album was great? I think you got that, though; recommended for anyone truly into music.
Top Tracks: With A Bullet, The Resistance
Sam Roberts – Chemical City / 2006 Universal / 10 Tracks / http://www.samrobertsband.com / http://www.umusic.ca / Reviewed 04 July 2006