"Some people stay sick in bed, sick at work or in their heads. Doctors can diagnose, problems they are having most." The opening lines of twothirtyeight's third album, Regulate the Chemicals, basically sum up the idea behind the whole album. Throughout the record, the band makes refferences to lifestyles, common life situations, and the importance of faith. Chris Staples knows all too well how to put these in without actualy coming out and saying it, so most people will have to really read into the lyrics to get the different ideas behind this record.
Regulate the Chemicals opens up with "The Hands of Men," which might be one of the best songs that the band has ever written. It deals with the pain and fear of having a loved one in the hospital with the chance of them dying. The intricate guitar work and progression is really what shines in this song, since most people might not get the lyrics the first time around (Staples basically says everything without stating what he really is trying to get at). "There is No Dana" quickly pulls you back into the record after "The Hands of Men" ends in true indie rock fashion, fading out peacefully. This song perfectly shows the process of somebody you love leaving you and how people will remember the little things about them. "Coin Laundry Loser" is one most people can easily relate to as it talks about how hard it can be to start living on your own after college is over, trying to figure out what to do in life.
The band then slows things down with the next three songs on the album, but never so slow that it takes away from the rest of the album. "This Town Will Eat You" shows how twothirtyeight can craft such a simple song, yet make it much better than what most bands put out anymore. Lyrically, it could be taken in a few different ways, but I see it most about how people can get so caught up in life that they begin to lose relationships with some of their closest friends. "The Spoiled One" refers to the parable of the Prodigal Son. "If you raise them up, raise them up in me, they will not turn away. Could it be I've been the one who almost went astray?" could easily relate to anybody listening to this song, showing, again, Staples' lyrical mastery at writing songs that anyone could relate to.
"Les Wirth" is probably one of the most random changes of pace I've ever heard on an album, but it's completely fitting, never feeling out of place with its acoustic, country style. "Moving Too Far" is one of the few songs with straight-forward lyrics, "You are the virus that invades, You are taking over cells. Stopping, ever changing, Moving in and through my body. You are the reason I am feverish." Staples addresses being in a bad relationship that is "invading" and "taking over" his life. In other words, it's influencing him very negatively. The album really pickes up again with "Songs Will Write the Words," which talks about someone that he loves so much that he can't write words to describe. "Ears and Fingers" shows the importance of not putting in any filler or unecessary lines in songs. It is about people who only listen to themselves, blocking any other opinion out. With, basically, two lines repeated throughtout, it relies heavily on twothirtyeight's musical abilities. If the album stopped here, it would be perfect, but instead they decided to add one more acoustic song. I usually love any acoustic song twothirtyeight does, but "Indian in Your Eyes" is easliy the weakest song on the album, with the hardest lyrics to decipher.
All in all, Regulate the Chemicals is the closest twothirtyeight came to perfection before You Should Be Living. It shows that simple song layout and guitar work, overlapped with complex lyrics (that don't have any filler included), is a winning combination. It raises the bar for all other indie rock bands to try to compete with twothirtyeight's signature sound, that only would get better with You Should Be Living. This is easily one of the best bands out there that, unfortuantly, nobody has heard of.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 1/13/08, written by Matt Rogers for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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