Music » Album Review

CD Review: Medicine's To the Happy Few

Captured Tracks; Release date: Aug. 6, 2013

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Dream pop, that '90s signature mix of noise and psychedelic song craft has launched a successful stealth attack on modern pop. Need proof? Witness the recent spate of neoshoegaze bands, and the reformation of American dream pop pioneers Medicine. After a 17-year hiatus, Medicine returns with all original hands on deck to release a new LP, To the Happy Few.

Medicine picks up right where it left off on the album's opening cut, "Long as the Sun." Brad Laner's loud guitars doppler down like a freight train while vocalist Beth Thompson ushers the sun-dappled psych melody through a sea of fuzz. A multi-tracked chorus nods to The Association's 1966 hit "Cherish" as the track turns deliriously weird. The jolly "It's Not Enough" suggests Revolver-era Beatles attacked by Brian Eno's dive bombing Here Come the Warm Jets synths.

Yet Medicine is most effective when it peels back the air-raid siren squall, revealing the soulful swagger of "Holy Crimes." Madchester Happy Mondays hangover "The End of the Line" and misty madrigal "All You Need to Know" also benefit from the "less is more" approach. When Jim Goodall's rolling drums and Laner's ferocious, band saw-through-sheetmetal guitar bring the final cut "Daylight" back into the noise chamber, it's a welcome return to ear-bleeding form.

To the Happy Few takes its title from Shakespeare's stirring "St. Crispin's Day" half-time speech, and Medicine attacks its new material with relish. Sifting chamber pop gems through a sieve of industrial, prog and propulsive dance beats, the trio crafts a thoroughly modern take on psychedelia. Thanks goodness Laner and company decided to sally forth "once more into the breach."

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