“Getting the boot from the Modest Mouse concert after it started to cloud up a little…”
Pharmacy Spirits – Books
Pharmacy Spirits – Just Like Charles
This spring we received a beautiful gift from Nebraska’s Pharmacy Spirits. Following the path carved by their debut EP Every Song Ended In 1994, Teen Challenge stands on the shoulders of giants, and it stands tall. The record somewhat insinuates a contradiction, sharing the name of an evangelical Christian outreach program created in the 1950’s to heal the country’s youth of their addiction to drugs, alcohol, and sexual perversion. Pharmacy Spirits and Teen Challenge explores the expanse between depraved debauchery and outlandish treatment programs; the anxiety of each extreme is encapsulated by the band’s style. Taking a listen to their earlier EP, one recognizes a celebration of British and American new wave and post-punk engaged in fornication with college radio demigods, producing a dance driving vegrandis opus that is ultimately hip.
The observation that sometime in 1994 the music died sells the narrative that the 80’s was a truly significant decade. The lives of such admired artists as The Glove, The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Fall, and later bands like the Pixies and Pavement (Slanted and Enchanted, 1992 and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 1994), all flared and faded by the time 1994’s final sun set. Though this would be only one telling of the story, as many would argue that the few bands who still release albums are alive and well, not to mention, the very existence of Pharmacy Spirits’ seemingly inarguable relevance underscores the fact that many of these bands’ early catalogs have never been hotter. These artists though have come through the looking glass marred by the now romanticized experiences of sex, drugs, and death. Enter Teen Challenge.
Piecing together and then articulating the ambient qualities of a record is never easy. The critic is forever the douche bag for ever even considering the use of his vocabulary. Teen Challenge though has a warmth and beauty that is so exquisitely wrought with desperation and exhaustive emotion that it would be difficult to talk about it without reading like a canvas description at the MOMA. Teen Challenge has all that the throw-backs of the modern era could ever hope. The best songs make you want to dance, the rest are just as cool, though the contrast between pulsations such as Books or Just Like Charles and the slow downs like Safety Now only serves to elevate the power and energy of the former. Simply put, Teen Challenge is a beautiful gift that has reified all that we ever loved about the decade of decadence, yet at the same time Pharmacy Spirits has the guts and vision to move beyond a bygone time, through the looking glass, to explore what still counts, what is still relevant. By all measures they have succeeded.
Every Song Ended In 1994 EP
August 28th 7PM Eclipse Records w/ Dragons Power Up! & tba Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 29th 9PM Vaudeville Mews w/ Gabe Cordova & tba Des Moines, Iowa
September 3rd TBA
September 4th TBA
October 1st 9PM The Cave w/ Gospel Gossip! Northfield, Minnesota
October 2nd 9PM 331 Club w/ Gospel Gossip Minneapolis, Minnesota