Shoegaze is back! Everybody party like it's 1994 again! No, really...
Slowdive have reformed, toured, and are recording again. My Bloody Valentine have finally released the follow-up to Loveless. Ride are touring this summer.
That dense, guitar heavy sound that i love so suddenly seems very trendy again. And, as if a sign of this, Medicine have reformed.
Don't remember Medicine? They were the band with the tall blond female lead vocalist who played dense, guitar-heavy music in the club scene in The Crow. Yes, it was a terrible movie, but a lot of people still saw it back in 1994. They were that band, and coincidentally Cocteau Twins vocalist Liz Fraser added vocals to that song, but wasn't in the movie...
Medicine released three pretty good records in the 1990s, more on the MBV side of the shoegaze world. That is, although there were some lusher Cocteau-esque moments in their work, it tended more towards layers of sound so dense that it approached noise. I enjoyed them back in the 1990s, especially 1993’s The Buried Life.
Well, the band reformed in 2013, and this is their second album since coming back. And the noise element is even more prominent.
There are nine songs in about 42 minutes.
Things start off with a wave of guitar feedback and electronic noise in The Reclaimed Girls. Vocalist Elizabeth Thompson sings clearly, while the guitars scream like MBV and Curve-like beats thud. And then, in the middle, there is a Beatles-y piano riff wandering though.
On Turning a guitar chokes under distortion, a drum sample is mangled and looped in a funky riff, and Thompson is echoed and distorted. This is messy chaotic fun, and the overall effect reminds me a lot of the last Curve record, Come Clean.
Move Along - Down the Road is just straight on MBV fetishism. This is guitars so effected and distorted that the song is a haze. Don't Be Slow is similar, but here the wall of sound vibrates with reverb. Thompson's voice is flat and distant, like a poorly recorded sample. And yet, this really shows her voice, its richness and her lovely sense of melody. Almost a shame to bury it under all that echo. Also, Brad Laner's drumming is great on this one.
Cold Life is almost Beatles-y, only noisier. It has that kind of simple, almost instinctual melody that Lennon and McCartney were so good at. Laner sings here, with Thompson ooh-ing in the background.
Everyone sings a sort of lo-fi harmony on They Will Not Die. This one starts with a strange clattering sample before transforming into a chugging sunshiny tune. It's actually pretty happy sounding for Medicine.
It's All About You starts with the distortion at a minimum as the song is built mostly out of piano and drums and voice. It gets noisier, denser, fussier as it progresses, a transformation that really shows what Medicine do to great effect.
I really like Laner's drum loop on The People. It’s a loping sort of beat that seems to dominate the song. Medicine pair it with Thompson singing breathily and some distorted echoing guitar. The song ends with a sample, some kind of crowd noises under an eerie reverbing. Creepy, but fun.
The album ends with the twelve minute opus Home Everywhere. A drum beat chugs and an organ sample loops in reverse. Thompson's voice is distant and echoed. This gets really noisy, with guitar and drums and samples all going at it, before eventually dissolving into sheer noise. Which, when you think about it, is a perfect ending for a Medicine record.
Overall, the album is a messy and noisy. The songs here are really dense, and i know that will turn off some listeners. However, if you like MBV or any of the heavier, more distorted shoegaze acts (Swervedriver, Curve, etc) then you'll want to see what Medicine is up to these days.