When I first heard Keller&Cole it was in a basement, at a house party, in front of 40 people. More than a year later, when I heard Keller&Cole’s first 2020 single, “Love Drunk Alchemy” it felt like the room I was in wasn’t big enough for them. So, I took it for a drive. Blasting through my minivan’s speakers it was then I noticed the nuisances that made this track so special.
The beginning vocal trade, solely accompanied by what sounds like an electric guitar and a mellotron, cuts through demanding my attention. The very first cymbal roll splashes us into the chorus combining both Keller and Cole’s voices and delivering us a cleverly catchy chorus. What I am talking about is what stands out most about “Love Drunk Alchemy” amongst its peers: its enormous production value.
It is evident that extremely careful hands were placed on this track. Every single stroke of the drums is meaningful and contributes to the bigger picture. Consider the aforementioned cymbal roll combined with the rolled snare that hits in the second chorus. The second electric guitar added in after the first verse. The slide after the second chorus. These subtle musical tactics make the build of the tune all the more impactful.
You hit this sort of peak of instruments and chorus right before the break where you’re brought down to reality as Cole’s voice soothes the track. A period of artistic silence ensues and launches us right back into that contagiously catchy chorus. The song is in full overdrive instrumentally and vocally then it goes away. The last thing the listener hears is the remaining grit in their breath as the track fades to black. The mix is crisp. The final product is packaged and punchy.
I challenge you to listen to “Love Drunk Alchemy” alongside your favorite Top 40 track of the past ten years. You will find it holds its own. Lyrically the song portrays feelings of loss and sadness that are heavily emphasized by the words in the chorus “I’ve been dreaming, drinking Love Drunk Alchemy / I’ve been sinking, thinking you’ll come after me.” There’s no ambiguity here and you almost have to sit back and smile because Landon Keller and Kara Cole were able to lyrically portray this theme that artists have been repeatedly capturing for years but with a fresh catchy twist that is entirely original.
And yeah, let’s talk about that chorus and why it’s so catchy and masterful. That rhyme scheme utilizing the repetitive “-ing” sound seems so simple but is executed powerfully. Those choruses peak just perfectly within the track. You feel like you’re in the middle of a contextually appropriate chorus which is simply attributed to the previously mentioned instrumental and vocal characteristics blending skillfully into one.
Those verses? You know how some songs sound like a duet? For instance, Kid Rock’s “Picture”? In that particular track you feel interrupted when Sheryl Crowe’s voice enters. I’m going to make some people mad here, but that’s not nearly as well-executed as the fluent trading of Landon and Kara’s voices. “Love Drunk Alchemy” doesn’t feel like a duet. Keller&Cole don’t overdo it.
A month after that house concert I heard them on 92.3’s Over Easy. Having just won best single and album/EP of the year from National Road Magazine for their debut “Plain, Loud, and Clear” I feel confident I’ll be hearing them more, and I wouldn’t be surprised if “Love Drunk Alchemy” or “Blue” cleans up the next time the Roadies happen. Seriously If you haven’t given these guys an honest listen you owe yourself that favor.
A freshman at DePauw University, Parker Black is a music theory major who picked up his first guitar at age 7. Besides his school work and performance work fronting two recent bands, Black is also the co-founder of Second Story Studios in Greencastle, Indiana.