Home Is Where the Medicine Is
Medicine’s latest offering, Home Everywhere, seems to be the product of an LSD bender between Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, the Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles and a very jovial Brian Wilson, the genius behind the Beach Boys who spawned the legendary SMiLE during a period in which the Fab Four unleashed their similarly colorful collection.
Medicine, whose legacy spans a quarter-century, have crafted a record that augments the beautiful abrasions of shoegaze’s distorted guitars with the bubbly, colorful and whimsical acrobatics splattered all over the psychedelic records that populated 1967 like locusts over Pharaoh’s Egypt in Exodus. But they’ve also created an album that displays a dizzying array of utter serenity, completing contradicting itself whenever it can.
Some songs are strewn with a hodge-podge of bouncy qualities. A cotillion of piano chords fly about like the soundtrack to a freak show on the outskirts of town. The drums bash their way into your consciousness, supporting an array of groovers and supercuts and guitars that sound like a mix between metal plates scraping together and earnest angels screaming the most beautiful of sirens. The bass warms it all up, with ethereal, meaningful vocals coolly flying around seeking to be as polite as possible.
The first half of the record, featuring songs like “Turning,” “Don’t Be Slow” and “Cold Life,” adhere largely to that mold. They engage in the busy-body bombast of Beatles numbers like “I Am The Walrus” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” while spewing out guitar work reminiscent of Shields’ six-string noodlings.
The bulk of the second half of the album is much more subdued. The band sets aside some of the more indulgent pretenses for a rawer, more intimate experience. The whimsical, joie de vivre vibe is still there, but it sounds more like something from a Wes Anderson film.
“They Will Not Die” and “It’s All About You” turn on a quiet, serene feel. The former taps into aspects of Simon and Garfunkel and Beck (circa Mutations), bouncing still but with vocals bathed in opiates and drums too shy to impose too much. The latter has more of a backbeat, but its vocals, acoustic guitars and pianos are all fixing to nap all while ensuring everyone feels OK about everything. Well, sort of. The conclusion of the song becomes a celebration of fuzzy guitar acrobatics that might wake a listener up a bit but the affirmations are still there.
The title cut, also the closer, is an 11-minute number that appropriately combines virtually all of the themes of the record while still hewing to the lazy afternoon qualities dictated by the standards of the second half of this bizarre album. It’s beautiful and almost sacred in its approach. There’s a choir of angels singing over a chaos of sounds that fluctuate between delicate and tastefully brutal. It’s a gem and clearly the best cut on the collection.
Home Everywhere is a challenging, bizarre and often incredibly brilliant album that serves to remind listeners of the sheer sense of wonder available to them, but only if they seek it out. They would be a fool on a hill to not try.