After a year, countless shows, festival dates, and a cassette release late last summer Heaven’s Gateway Drugs have finally given their fans and followers what they’ve been jonesing for: a debut album. You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs is filled with the psychedelic-heavy tunes and pop-leaning melodies you would hope to find on a HGD album. And when you stop and look between the paisley visions and kaliedescopic hallucinations what you see are a batch of great psych pop and rock songs that could pull their weight regardless of genre name tag.
“Radio” opens the album on a cloud of sitar-like guitar and a vocal that hangs somewhere in the middle of the mix before the chorus opens the song into a sunny yet still oblique field of poppies. “Black Lady” rides on a hefty bass line and solid beat with a buzzing psychedelic charm just under the surface as C. Ray Harvey’s vocals come in to drive this great track into the technicolor sunset. One of the many great things about Heaven’s Gateway Drugs is the ying and yang of Harvey and Derek Mauger. They both come at a song in their own particular way, yet when both come together -like they do in this band- it’s a beautiful thing. Harvey brings a bigger-than-life presence to his singing. There’s drama, and a theatrical urgency in his voice. Mauger comes from more of a gritty, garage rock background that grounds HGD and gives them their rock ‘n roll heart. Together these two put HGD somewhere between The Cure and The Troggs. With Eric Frank, Josh Elias, and the shaman-like Ben Carr giving the band its backbone and spiritual center, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs becomes the psychedelic love God that we’ve come to know, love, and worship.
Elsewhere on You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs there’s “Army Coat”, a groovy little number that would’ve fit right in billowing like green smoke out of a club on Haight Ashbury Street in 1966. With it’s slippery riff and Doors-like organ hiding in the background you can’t help but want to let the music take you where it may. “When You Come” and it’s sitar sound combines both the best of 60s eastern Indian philosophies and 80s alternative into a massive song and some classic C. Ray Harvey emoting. “Where Were You” is classic 60s pop done up the only way HGD know how. “The Late Great Sharon Tate” is a great rocker in the vein of Stone Roses. “Turncoat” ends this excellent debut like Charles Manson doing surf music. Dark, groovy, and catchy as hell.
What else is there to say about this incredible debut long player by Fort Wayne’s(and beyond) best rock ‘n roll band? Nothing. The music speaks for itself. Listen closesly, for it says “You are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs”.
8.5 out 10