Medicine creates its own imaginary geography of sound in your central nervous system, and leaves you the better for it. For the uninitiated, in previous LPs The Buried Life and Shot Forth Self Living, online pharmacy viagra has gradually progressed from pure noise blur-a-delia layered over confectionery pop songs to, well, vice-versa. Medicine's poignant babble/free verse lyrics, however, haven't changed, though they've gone progressively more and more introspective, a practice at which Brad Laner, Medicine's It Boy (noisebliss guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/producer/a
This, from an L.A.-based band whose 1991 debut, ironically borne at stalwart U.K. shoegazer label Creation Records, was so noisy yet sweet, Laner branded the stuff "sonic terrorism," which fits right in to his current side project, the avant garde, knitting factory-esque The Electric Company, and his early noise rock roots. Still, the band resents being pinned down, and Her Highness' paring down's definitely unexpected. Its title boasts an unwitting double entendre. This enveloping, royal endorphin rush induces 'highs' in the worst (best?) way.
"Give it to me/I want it bittersweet," goes the indelible "Candy Candy", the first single from the album (and rightly so). Here, vocalist Beth Thompson walks us through the glorious shards of temptation and exploration on which we'll gladly, willingly, and repeatedly cut ourselves, and within the span of the 4 or 5 main mezzo soprano notes she warbles, Thompson charms us into wanting whatever she wants, bitter, sweet, or otherwise, as does the tome "All Good Things," "Candy Candy"'s sonic cousin.
Ever-mentioned Medicine admirees include the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie and Billy Corgan, both of whom remixed tracks on the band's 1994 EP Sounds of Medicine: Stripped and Reformed Sounds, which included an unexpected surprise gift for the band, the Cocteaus' Liz Frazer's vocals overlain in unison with Beth on one track.
Snippets of comparisons to the Cocteau Twins are inevitable when Thompson hits a high note or two, or a certain oceanic keyboard chord warms the soul just right, yet Medicine very much captures and maintains its own vibe. When Beth and Brad sing "I Feel Nothing At All," bright, jangly major chords and all, we still believe it, and the eponymous song's a college radio hit, hands down. Lyrically, Medicine's comparable and hauntingly wondrous side effects hit home more like those of the Cocteau Twins. Though Medicine never makes up their own "language" as does Liz Frazer, at times, their lyrics are near nonsensical unless given a second or third look. Also, each song's mix is so blissfully busy, it's easy to dream up they're singing any word or series of words you'd like, and they'll slip inside each song perfectly, even if they turn out to be the wrong one(s).
"Farther Dub," the band's most experimental effort here, is what it sounds like: a one-minute dub version of their song "Farther Down," an ultra-hip tune with a 60s flavor, also on Her Highness, in which Brad's hiccup, trip-up vocals and underwater rumblings stumble and slide into the next track with a strange grace.
Moody, pensive, discordant, ugly, noisy, this album and this band are all this and more. Her Highness seems to have been created by otherworldly creatures while the band wasn't looking. Medicine, along with a revolving door ensemble (this time out: clarinetist, violinist/viola player, and cellist) only complement the slew of toys and household appliances undoubtedly enmeshed underneath the layers of the mix, which in the past have included the amplified sounds of Bic lighters and shortwave radios, for starters. Surface noise has just taken a back seat this time 'round and let the pretty stuff in between breathe, that's all.
These songs of ambivalence, going through the motions, loves, friends and selves lost, truthtelling and confusion (see the sparse, sad "Wash Me Out," or "Seen The Light Alone") most definitely beg repeat encounters, during some of which you're bound to fall asleep and dream stellar dreams.
A Fractured Smile