Nov 2013 11

Medicine - To the Happy FewMedicine
Category: Noise / Rock / Shoegaze
Album: To the Happy Few
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: The darlings of noise pop return in its original lineup after 20 years, offering up a more mature but no less cacophonous blend of enticing melody.


While many may only remember the band from its brief appearance in the film The Crow, Medicine was one of the more eminent bands in the early ‘90s explosion of noise pop and shoegaze. As Brad Laner has taken Medicine through varying styles, even including flirtations with electro-pop and trip-hop in the early 2000s, To the Happy Few marks the band’s return to the noisy alternative pop of its origins, bringing together for the first time in 20 years the original lineup of Laner, vocalist Beth Thompson, and drummer Jim Goodall.

A stream of warm, shimmering feedback begins before the thunderous percussion and brightly distorted melodies enter, as “Long As the Sun” kicks the album off as if it were 1992 all over again. Thompson’s layered harmonies acting as much as an instrument as the rest of the music, creating a lush and lovely song even through the noise, Medicine pulls all the stops on this song. Later tracks like “Burn It” with its overdriven pianos and grooving rhythm, “Holy Crimes” with its jazzy beat and Thompson’s soulful R&B style melody, and “All You Need to Know” with its sustained melancholy evoking a nocturnal mood, all help to continue the path set by the opening track. The lo-fi noise and effects prevalent throughout will surely bring listeners back to the atmosphere created by earlier albums like Shot Forth Self Living and The Buried Life, but tempered by a less angst-ridden maturity of songwriting and arrangement. Stripped of the noise, these are beautifully crafted pop songs that never go in conventional directions, such as in “Butterfly’s Out Tonight” as the galloping rhythm and piano backdrop leads to an almost ‘60s style chorus that ends with a choir of harmonies and synthesized echoes creating a celestial effect. “Daylight” ends the album with a powerful thrumming of drums and acoustic guitars, the beats shifting time and mood several times, before concluding with the same feedback that began the album, giving To the Happy Few a cyclical feel that reminds this writer of The Moody Blues Days of Future Past.

It’s as if Medicine never left as To the Happy Few eschews any notions of modernity and presents the classic noise pop sound that the band’s fans love and remember. Whether this marks a more permanent return for Medicine remains to be seen, but to hear Laner, Thompson, and Goodall belting out such a warmly inviting album as this is a welcome reminder of the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Lush. Welcome back, Medicine; we’ve missed you!
Track list:

  1. Long As the Sun
  2. It’s Not Enough
  3. Burn It
  4. Holy Crimes
  5. The End of the Line
  6. Butterfly’s Out Tonight
  7. All You Need to Know
  8. Find Me Always
  9. Pull the Trigger
  10. Daylight

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Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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