With Home Everywhere, Medicine show those pesky revivalists how it's done
Look, up in the stars! Is it a synth? Is it a guitar? No, it’s Brad Laner and the orginal lineup of Medicine, back with a brand new album of layered choruses for us to wrap our ears around. Perhaps spurred out of shoegaze retirement last year by the Deerhunters and Beach Houses leading the noise pop revival, the early 90s L.A. dream poppers reunited under the radar of many and released To the Happy Few, barely missing a beat from their trusty drum machine.
Drones, drums and dichotomy aplenty, latest album Home Everywhere barrages the listener with a wall of sonic aura that sounds and, based on the album art, looks as if the decades between drinks had barely affected them.
Artists are supposed to be slowing down, mellowing out, or getting quieter decades removed from their heyday, right? Not Medicine. Noisy as ever and imbued with vociferous guitars, raucous percussion and fuzzy bass, the album’s opposing raw, modulated aesthetic is akin to their first album Short Forth Self Living, released all the way back in 1992. Ethereal vocals enchantingly emerge from amidst the backdrop of Laner and band’s swirling psychedelia, resulting in the delicate, demented melancholia for which he and the band are so aptly renowned.
Album opener “The Reclaimed Girl” is a wave of harpsichord stabs and phaser-laden, fuzzy noise pop that warmly washes over, while the curious amalgamation of dance beats and auditory pandemonium on “Turning” is typical of the band. “Move Along - Down the Road” is like a number of different songs in one in which someone keeps abruptly changing the radio station; the song’s raucous fragmentations melting the dial off the receiver to fashion a bizarre sense of disjointed lysergia.
However, for all the clamour and noise, at times Home Everywhere also rollicks along mellifluously almost like a quiet Boo Radleys or Yo La Tengo track, and while the vocals are at times inaudible due to their lo-fi, droning production values, this only adds to the album’s uplifting, waiflike tone. “Don’t Be Slow” in all its uplifting, wistful glory sounds a bit like a Tame Impala demo, while the hauntingly beautiful Elizabeth Thompson sung “It’s All About You” is as close to Slowdive or the Cocteau Twins as you will get in 2014.
The standout track is the 11-and-a-half minute closer and title track, encapsulating both sides of the album into one warped trip through past, present and future. Synths, guitars, vocals, bass and drums all percolate into the embodiment of one mother of a tune, which manages to both gently rock the listener to sleep and kick the shit out of them. Much like a junkie and the album as a whole, the track builds up and into a rush of energy and euphoria before sobering back down, ready to do it all over again.
There is some definite filler material and some of the experimentation is a bit hit and miss, but Home Everywhere is a largely fantastic effort from the closest act to My Bloody Valentine the US can boast. While the album didn’t have expectancy of - or even hit the vertiginous heights of - last year’s mbv, it’s pleasing to know that such an influential band haven’t merely faded into a memory like so many others of their generation. Medicine sound more up-to-date than the young revivalists who are currently making a living by mimicking them, and unlike other reunited groups, are not vexatiously rehashing their past successes or relying on listener nostalgia for their music to grab attention. 24 years after he formed the band, Laner is still pushing sonic boundaries, reminding the psych bands of today that while looking back is important, looking forward and up into the sky is what will really make you stand out.