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Lab Partners - Moonlight Music

by Kevin Wierzbicki

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What is your first thought when you hear the band name Lab Partners? Do you envision a couple of geeky high school kids with goggles and pocket protectors peering into a test tube and waiting for some type of chemical reaction to occur? Or do you think of the troublemakers in the back of the class, the ones singeing their eyebrows off with their Bunsen burner, the ones who are likely to ingest whatever it is they've cooked up in that beaker? The band known as Lab Partners is more like the latter. Psychedelia is the order of the day for this three-man, one-woman quartet from Dayton, Ohio, and they start their aural odyssey with "We've Been Burned," a Jefferson Airplane-like slice of mind expansion that has singer Michael Smith sounding a lot like early Airplane vocalist Marty Balin. But mostly Lab Partners favor a denser form of music that recalls the best work of bands like the Verve and the foggy cocoons of "It's Funny" and "Back's to the Wall" are especially Verve-like. Smith's vocal work is the key to Moonlight Music's success and not because he puts himself out front; he knows exactly when to let probing guitars push him into a distant corner and how to surf a keys-and-guitar swell right into the undertow, all the while perfectly conveying the wonderment of the man exploring the pathless path. You know how, back in chem class in high school, some kid would always cause the lab to be closed down for a day or two as the result of some questionable experiment? Well, the music of Lab Partners is filled with questions too. Fearlessly jump straight into the haze, though, and you just might find the answers.



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