Dan Smith – Alchemy

Dan Smith – Alchemy (M17)

Dan Smith

Oh God, I do want Alchemy right out of you, Dan Smith! But where is it? Why are you defending yourself? Ack, what frustration.

Smith paddles in similar pools to those of Kate Nash and the lamentable Luke Leighfield, albeit with a degree more nous and skill than either of those. Alchemy is a lazy song dressed up as a not-lazy song, all massive chord changes (though not nearly enough of them) and terrifyingly hackneyed magnificence, from the Muse-thieving-which-is-actually-already-classified-as-Bach-thieving-even-though-that’s-a-lazy-comparison to the horrible lyrics that stink of the common room. It’s all a faux-accomplished nightmare, with widdling arpeggios and chromatic runs that honestly aren’t all that difficult to perform bogging down the whole affair until its tastelessly overblown ‘dub’ breakdown and shocking climax (which, for the record, is the most potent example of ‘epic for the sake of epic’ heard in some time).

Then, Dan Smith, what have you gone and done? You’ve included a really interesting second song! That’s nuts! Why didn’t you just abandon the ridiculous first song and let people have a go on this instead? Flurrisome words fly out and sound reasonably intelligent on Words Are Words, the piano juxtaposes perfectly by plonking unobtrusively and the myriad changes in the feel of the beat are a real step on! Jesus! Why not stick with this one?


Alchemy is out on February 2nd via M17 records. That’s Monday. Go here if you want some Dan Smith noises. No offence, but I’m using the case from this single to hold my promo of the new Bill Callahan record, ‘cos it’s watermarked and came in the flimsiest envelope imaginable.


1 Comment

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One response to “Dan Smith – Alchemy

  1. I’ve just read this review after recently getting into Dan Smith’s music.
    I think you entirely missed the point of Alchemy – to claim he threw in scalic runs and arpeggios to sound overly clever or highly accomplished as a pianist is ignorant; everybody knows that they are very the first thing you learn, so it would be a very weak faccade to hide behind.
    The ‘epic’ nature of the song is surely down to the lyrics, it is meant to sound somewhat over the top and dramatic. He’s clearly not trying to revolutionise the theory of composition in his songwriting and uses the Bach-esque formula beautifully, in my opinion, to make a point.
    Perhaps it is a little immature, but comparing this to what i hear on commercial radio I would even go to say this song is somewhat innovative; especially in comparision to the popular songwriters you formally mentioned.
    Words and words is a nice song, but similar in style to that of already more popular, less interesting and rather saturated niche.

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