Johnny Lloyd returned on the 30th October with his second solo studio album Cheap Medication, having recently worked on the score for partner Billie Piper’s critically acclaimed drama series, I Hate Suzi. The album is far cry from his early work and sees the former lead vocalist of indie darlings Tribes move firmly into the world of Folk-pop.  

Due to the constraints of the first national lockdown, the project was completed at the artist’s home with the help of Kapil Trivedi of Mystery Jets and The Kook’s Pete Denton. The album is an easy-going affair, a vibe established by the opening track ‘Suze’ with its dreamy vocals, accompanying flute and slow, long keyboards. This passive manner continues throughout the album,  particularly evident in the hypnotic guitar slides featured on tracks ‘Real Thing’ and ‘Better Weather.’ 

Cheap Medication is an intimate album, one that almost feels like a direct conversation between Lloyd and the listener, an atmosphere perhaps created by the minimal backing vocals featured throughout. However, the laid back nature of the Cheap Medication has been taken too far at times, resulting in parts of the album being just simply boring. Songs like ‘Oh Lord’, ‘Better Weather’ and ‘Don’t Take My Word for It’ are slow, bland and have you reaching for the skip button.   

The album’s highlight is the definitely ‘Real Thing,’ which was initially released as a single in September. The track plays into the amorous theme persistent throughout Cheap Medication and is a straight forward love song about finding purpose with the person you’re meant to be with. It features a brilliant concoction of slightly distorted lead and mild acoustic guitar, which is then joined by a Harmonica ; together providing a  platform for Lloyd’s beautiful lyrics. The low light of the record however, is the self-indulgent, minute long pause that features right in the heart of penultimate track ‘Don’t Take My Word for It’. This silence doesn’t add anything to the song, instead its effect is to cause the unsuspecting listener to believe that their record player has just packed it in.  

Cheap Medication is certainly less interesting than Lloyd’s debut solo album Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds and has seen him move to sound different to that of what was featured on his original solo works, EPs Dreamland and Eden; which were closer to Tribes’ work than this release. 

Overall, Cheap Medication is a decent, easy going affair but at times it’s not much more than inoffensive, background listening fodder. It’s a release born from Lloyd only answering to himself, but perhaps, within that, may lie the answer to why this album slightly misses the mark in parts. 

2.5/5

 

Image: Sonic PR

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