This week: “Body Chemistry” by The Drums (Anti, 2019)
Why we’re into it: In true The Drums fashion, this track integrates healing and curiosity with an introspective and 80s-inspired rock bop.
For those who’ve struggled with—or are struggling with—depression, the opening lines of Johnny Pierce’s “Body Chemistry” may resonate powerfully: “Change my life/Everyone is telling me/To change my life.” It’s a familiar trope repeated by family, friends, and even strangers, and it goes something like this: To fight depression and all the accompanying stress and anxiety, one just needs to change their outlook on life. How about trying to smile more?
Only one listen is enough for Pierce to prove with anguish that there’s more to it than these simplistic approaches. He touches on the universal theme of all who are suffering: “Is this of my own doing?”
“Is my chemistry/Not forgiving me?/Body chemistry/Unrelenting/Unforgiving.” Paired with the strong brassy background beats and the beauty and musicality of Pierce’s voice, the tone is not one of anguish but of healing. “I know some good luck/And a good fuck/A nice glass of wine/And some quality time/Is gonna make you mine/But it’s not what I’m trying to find.” He offers invigorating and authentic self-realization: This is a list of just temporary Band-Aids for a much larger wound.
“Body Chemistry” never resorts to being another cliché of sad songs, which is often the fate of art created to deal with the very real struggle of depression. The tune feels multifaceted, and Pierce captures both the universality and the specificity of depression. He has insight. He is self-aware. But most important of all, he grows to accept that it’s not his fault he’s the way he is.