It’s pretty unheard of to have an unsigned, essentially amateur band who are able to put out a full length album with such a confident, fully-formed sound and aesthetic. But somehow that’s what The Allergens have managed with their marvellously titled debut album, I’m Sick Of My Caring, Sharing Lover And His Endless Foreplay. In listening to it I’m reminded of everything from the Ziggy era Bowie, Blue era Weezer, Danger Days era My Chemical Romance, Dinosaur Jr., even The Darkness — the common trend being swaggering, effortlessly catchy pop rock with a dash of cartoonish fun.
The album kicks off strongly with The Times, a proto-punk track evocative of The Undertones. The catchy melodies and harmonised guitar melodies work perfectly. The second track Castaway follows in a similar vein, but is let down by a slightly weaker vocal performance, especially on the verses. That being said, the chorus is fantastic, its medleying of fuzzy gutiars with lush female vocal harmonies reminding me of Yuck’s debut album.
The album really comes into its own with the tracks sung by Oliver Rose. More often than not I’m put off by British singers who insist on putting on an American accent, but Oliver’s tuneful and heavily enunciated Americanised vocals match the album’s tongue-in-cheek, postmodern ironic tone perfectly. Not Just A Girl, Why Do All The Sweet Girls and The Stars are the best examples of this, their success owed to Oliver’s cocky delivery and the band’s straightforward, unquestionably brilliant power pop songwriting. The melody on The Stars is particularly wonderful.
I have a lot of time for verbose (and potentially pretentious) lines like “Let me tell you about reclamation: it is a politic of parallels”, or uses of the word “augusticlave”, or sly references to Nietzsche. However, where The Allergens excel the most lyrically is with the simplicity and timelessness of lines like those of the chorus to Going Nowhere: “Ever since I got here, I’ve tried my very best to leave.” The track Lemonade??? finds The Allergens at their most lyrically audacious, and while I ultimately do not endorse the overarching message of the song, I don’t find myself offended by it because, at the end of the day, at least it’s not a manifesto scrawled in blood, pinned to the naked, swinging corpse of a politician, right Oliver? *winky face*
The album’s greatest curve ball is their reworking of Fascist Love-Song, previously released on their Ostrich EP. While the original was a stripped back, almost The Smiths like indie track, the instrumentation of this version could almost be a cut from the Twin Peaks soundtrack, with its retro synths and shimmering guitar riff.
It’s unfortunate that this album didn’t get the proper studio treatment it deserves, for although it is impressively and at times brilliantly produced for a DIY release, the mix does occasionally fall a little flat. This album is a pleasure to listen to: song after song of catchy, well-written, justifiably self-assured ear candy. I’m excited to see where The Allergens go from here. They deserve and are capable of great things.