Raw Honey

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The first Drugdealer album, The End of Comedy, was a bit of a stylistic shift for the band's main instigator, Michael Collins, that saw him moving away from trippy and weird psych towards something far more relaxed and Laurel Canyon-y. There were a few kinks to be ironed out, like meandering songs and a few too many cooks, but it was a promising and enjoyable record. The second Drugdealer album, Raw Honey, has zero kinks left to work out and fulfills all the promise of the debut and more. This time around, Collins and a wide range of collaborators absolutely nail the lush and lovely singer/songwriter sound of the mid-'70s, while adding some healthy bits of warm weirdness and subtle grandeur to the mix along the way. The album is a cool mix of shaggy-dog pastiche and real feeling moments of emotion, all wrapped up in an organic sound that's as familiar as a favorite old blanket. The songs that dig a little deeper into emotional territory -- like "Honey," which is sung with perfect tenderness by Natalie Mering (aka Weyes Blood), or "Lost in My Dream," which combines emotional weight with a liltingly sweet melody and very lush arrangements -- are the songs that linger the longest. And the late-night soft rock ballads like the very Steely Dan-ish "Fools" are the ones that go down the smoothest, but the fun songs stick around, too. The Harley Hill-Richmond-sung "Lonely" is a peppy little pop trifle that Harry Nilsson would have been happy to call his, "Wild Motion" features the languorous vocal stylings of Douglas Poole and answers the question of what 10cc would have sounded like if Roy Orbison had joined the band, and "London Nightmare" strums and hums along in happily rambling fashion. Michael Collins oversees all the players like a chilled-out Brian Wilson, the band fits together like blocks of hashish, and if the listener isn't completely relaxed by the time the record is over, they should likely seek medical attention.

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