Twothirtyeight was an indie rock band from Pensacola, Florida. They formed in 1995, but eventually got signed to Tooth & Nail Records in 2001 and this album was re-released with a bonus track to coincide with the signing. It's worth noting that frontman Chris Staples went on to form Discover America after Twothirtyeight called it quits, and that Chris Carrabba of Further Seems Forever and Dashboard Confessional fame contributed backing vocals on two songs for Regulate the Chemicals
, "This Town Will Eat You" and "Coin Laundry Loser". Despite the semi star-studded cast, the record is a perfect example of extremely mediocre indie rock. I think the creative juices were there, but what they ended up creating was a bland romp of 11 aimlessly wandering indie rock songs.
The entire album feels like a side project of someone that doesn't normally dabble in indie rock; its song aesthetics are uninspired and generic, and completely by-the-numbers. What exactly is by-the-numbers when it comes to indie? Well, you can get a good idea of how this record sounds by reading this statement: unremarkable clean vocals and bass work, basic drumming and clean guitar picking and strumming. I'm sure there's much more to the emotional aspect of the album, but it's usually hard to tell with how stale Staples' vocals are. Don't get me wrong though; this isn't a bad record. There isn't anything that just grates your ears and every song is solid. But solid is all the songs will ever be because of how uninspired the songwriting comes off. None of the individual parts are bad; the final product just isn't impressive or moving. What makes this particularly noticeable to me is how much a lot of other indie gets its strength from either being so moving, or hanging around my memory from being so unique, and this album does neither.
I can conclude all of this from one listen. Unfortunately, repeated listens haven't reaped any different results. Regulate the Chemicals
isn't bad, but the 11 (good) songs blend together to create a forgettable package. I can't even say that the songs distinguish themselves from one another; everything is slow to mid-tempo and it all has the same ingredients. It is because of the lack of any obvious heart that this record feels like a side project; it's like an indie rock record for the sake of being indie so the artists can say they've put one out. It doesn't quite work as a rock album either because it's just different enough to not be straight up rock. Not that that is bad; the album just doesn't have a clear cut identity. It can still be enjoyed, though, if you're just wanting to relax to some chill music in the background. I wish I could say something better about this album because there's glimpses of potential, but even that was nullified by Twothirtyeight's disbanding. Regulate the Chemicals
isn't a bad record but don't expect anything remarkable.