To The Happy Few - Medicine

MedicineSKU: CT-183



After splitting up in 1995 and going their separate ways, it seemed unlikely that the original members of the pioneering American shoegaze band Medicine would ever record again. Especially after the band's leading man Brad Laner revived the name for the not very noisy, not very good Mechanical Forces of Love record in 2003. Things began to change when Captured Tracks reissued the group's first two albums: the breathtaking noise blast Shot Forth Self Living and the candy pop gem The Buried Life in 2012. Spurred by how good the albums sounded, Laner, vocalist Beth Thompson, and drummer Jim Goodall buried their bad feelings and began working on a new album. Picking up where their last album, Her Highness, left off, To the Happy Few is a swirling kaleidoscope of poppy noise and guitar-driven euphoria. To their credit, the trio decided not to allow the sonic advances after they split to worm their way into the mix -- no electronic, no laptop squiggles, no dubstep -- in other words, there's precious little to mark this as an album made in 2013. Instead, it should have been the follow-up to Buried Life. The songs are drop-dead gorgeous, the waves of noise and sound are all-encompassing but arranged perfectly, and there is enough joyous craft and blown-out intensity in the sound to keep it from being just an empty nostalgia trip: Laner and co. Sound energized and inspired by chance to create Medicine music again, and they deliver the best result fans could have hoped for.

Along with the songs that have the trademark Medicine sound like "Long as the Sun," which opens the record with a thrilling jolt of overloaded sunshine pop, the languorous "The End of the Line," and the warped "Daylight," there are a few that take some chances and succeed. "Holy Crimes," with its rolling rhythms, aquatic pianos, and dramatic arrangement. Moreover, the insistent, almost danceable "Butterfly's Out Tonight" and the dub noise "Burn It" all add interesting new elements to an approach the band could follow if they stick together and make more records. Though, it's good enough to hear Thompson's breathless vocals weaving in and out of Laner's soundscapes again. Not to mention how good it is to experience Goodall's massive drums, which feel like the hands of Zeus pounding on the listener's skull. It's good enough to have Medicine back and make records like To the Happy Few, which stands proudly with the work they were doing 20 years previously. Other bands thinking about re-forming would do well to follow their lead and not just get back together to play the hits and count the cash, but instead create something vital and relevant, making the group's continued existence worthwhile.

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