March 23, 2000

Semisonic concocts album with 'Chemistry'

By Whitney Pierce
The Reveille
March 23, 2000

By Ken Schles / MCA MUSIC

Semisonic, the band that hit it big a few years ago with "Closing Time," has just released their new album, All About Chemistry. The band produced the album themselves,ensuring that each track is just the way they wanted.

(U-WIRE) Louisiana State U.-Minneapolis-based band Semisonic is open once again for business with its latest CD, All About Chemistry. When its second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, went platinum with the success of the popular airwave hit "Closing Time," Semisonic felt liberated and ready to give its fans a new album in which to revel.

"It was sometimes overwhelming to read all the e-mails we'd get about how deeply our music was affecting the fans," said guitarist/songwriter Dan Wilson. Wilson added that fans, pouring out support, let the band know that its music was helping people "make sense of their lives and times."

This, of course, was the encouragement and inspiration for the band's current album, All About Chemistry. The new CD is not just a product of Semisonic's songwriting and musical talents, but features various digital recording devices, sound-processing equipment, synthesizers and samplers that Wilson, bassist John Munson and drummer Jacob Slichter incorporated into the band's music-making process.

"I told John and Jake that I wanted us to produce it ourselves," Wilson said. "I figured this was a chance to get the new songs on a CD the way I heard them in my head."

With the rest of the band in agreement, Semisonic took on the role as producer as well as talent. "Since we produced the record ourselves, we didn't have to explain these weird sounds to anyone," Slichter added. All About Chemistry is the band's way of trying something new.

"I told the guys that I thought we'd done a great introspective album last time around, but this time I wanted to make something really different," Wilson said. All About Chemistry is a concept album that takes the listener through a journey of sexual and social situations that a group of friends experience in modern-day America.

Each song is related to the chemistry between people, hence the CD's title, title track, and tracks represented by figures as they'd be viewed in a chemistry book.

"On the last album, I wrote almost all the songs as secrets being told to just one person," said the Grammy-nominated Wilson. "This time around, I envisioned a big group of friends at a great party, where everyone has done a few things they'll remember forever and everyone has done a few things that they'd rather forget."

Each of the 12 tracks tells stories about the ins and outs of love and relationships. "Get a Grip" tells of the fact that there is not necessarily someone for everyone when the band sing "when the lights come on and the party's through, there are always a few with nobody to do." Though several of the songs seem depressing at first listen, they always lighten up with the usual get-over-it advice.

All of the songs on All About Chemistry are light and airy and can be classified into the pop category, but Semisonic's message is for a more mature audience than that of the usual fluff bands.

In "She's Got My Number," Wilson sings "she's got my number/I must confess one look in her eyes/and I feel undressed/she doesn't care all of the world's standing at her door/she doesn't even care what they're waiting for," expressing his fascination with a woman who doesn't give others the time of day.

"One True Love," a song of pity for oneself for being alone, was co-written by the legendary Carole King. King not only helped write the song, but she also contributes vocals alongside Wilson.

"I think her balance of emotional power and pop brilliance is like an ideal I've always been reaching for," Wilson said. It was pretty amazing to find myself sitting in a room with her, singing ideas back and forth."

King's influence is evident as soon as the song opens and the beginning piano piece reminds the listener of her famous "You've Got a Friend."

Listeners will hear "All About Chemistry" on radio stations across the country, mixed in with songs and artists who deserve no recognition. However, All About Chemistry is evidence that Semisonic has beaten the one-hit wonder rap and will continue to produce good music that is easy to listen to.

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