The Pharmacy are the kind of rock ‘n’ roll band that records songs in a church, explores said church, and finds weed tucked inconspicuously behind the pulpit. Frontman Scottie Yoder tells this story in the band’s press release, and based on the album title—Stoned and Alone—it’s clear that marijuana is an inescapable part of The Pharmacy’s collective lifestyle. Suitably (or perhaps consequently), their music is an amalgamation of garage rock and throwback psychedelia. It’s purposefully sloppy and irreverent.
By no means is there anything wrong with sloppy irreverence; however, the abundance of these kinds of stoner bands poses the question: Do we need any more? This year alone, acts such as Spider Bags, King Tuff, and Natural Child released toked up LPs that paid reverence to the ‘70s, dumb love, and power pop. So does The Pharmacy. Oversaturation aside, if the songwriting is strong, the songwriting is strong. Unfortunately Stoned and Alone fails in this category.
Opener “At the Top of the Ivory Stairs” is a fantastical ditty about a white staircase and a crystal ball. There are lush strings and soulful backing vocals—but it sounds like a song you’ve heard a dozen times over. Yoder struggles to hold down melodies; his vocal range limited, his delivery lackadaisical. Songs such as “Josephine” and “Baby Be”, which are built on catchy hooks, collapse in a half-baked haze. The sole exception is “Dig Your Grave”. It’s unlike anything else on the album: A frantic piano intro descends into the crushing pulses of a fuzzed-out organ while Yoder screams his ass off. If only The Pharmacy sounded this aggressive and inspired on other tracks.
Stoned and Alone might sound OK if you’re high (the band obviously was). But to sober ears, it just doesn’t have the songs to make it anything more than a footnote at the end of 2012’s long list of slop-rock records.
Essential Tracks: “Dig Your Grave”