Drugstore - White Magic For Lovers

IT'S NICE TO HAVE FAMOUS friends. Especially when you can use them to raise your profile above creeping obscurity. So one minute Isabel Monteiro is singing, "Hello to all the creeps", and then - wouldn't you know it? - King Weirdo himself, Thom Yorke, pops up to sing a duet.

Coincidence? Well no, because Drugstore have always been outsiders, non-attenders at the Britpop bash and singular failures to crash the chart party. So Mr Yorke, give or take the odd million-selling album, must feel right at home.

But in spite of all this, and skewed tales worthy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez short stories, they are also capable of infuriating derivation. They trawl through lazy lo-fi mumbling, they have the tinny bossa nova of 'I Don't Wanna Be Here Without You' (note: we don't really need another Saint Etienne) and they rely heavily on the kind of Boston college rock that would have been rejected by Juliana Hatfield, let alone the Pixies, for being just a little bit too obvious.

That's just part of the story. They have a mariachi band on 'Say Hello' (thus for once being vaguely in step with fashion). They have cellos swooning in abundance. They have tunes. And while the string-laden celeb mewling of 'El President' might be the standout track on here, others aren't far behind.

So 'Sober' swells into a spangled guitar anthem Bernard Butler would be proud of, while the title track starts with dreamy, if slightly sinister, advice on trapping yourself a lover before turning into a bizarre guitar romp rather reminiscent of Queen.

The real magic is still in the voice of Isabel, who approaches her tales of love and revenge with the kind of growlingly tender threat that marks her out as the Latino Cerys Matthews. It's that, more than anything else, that's likely to leave you bewitched.


Jim Alexander