Brad Laner started Medicine in 1990 in his mid 20s, while he was still moonlighting with post-punkers Savage Republic. He quickly turned the then-side project into a shoegaze institution (with a twist of noise) before disbanding in 1995. There was a brief reincarnation in 2003, but the 2013 full-length To the Happy Few represented Medicine’s true return to the indie-rock fray.
Happy Few was a comforting comeback for longtime fans, but the trio were so eager to pump out fresh ideas that they often forgot to fold them into solid, memorable songs. But the veteran band’s new LP, Home Everywhere, reveals a more patient, well-rounded unit. Laner, Elizabeth Thompson and Jim Goodall are perpetual explorers, and this heightened sense of cohesion serves their songs well.
But don’t get the wrong idea: Medicine continue to put the onus on the listener to keep up with their constant shifts, whether they’re conjuring Viva Voce and one of Bob Meek’s alien-speak ditties (“Cold Life”), recalling the Flaming Lips circa Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (“Don’t Be Slow”), or harmonizing as if “Good Day Sunshine” never happened (“They Will Not Die”). The difference is the way the elements of each track interact, smoothly segueing into each other rather than clumsily clanking from theme to theme.
What stands out the most, however, is the stealthy way the band crowds their arrangements. All nine of these tunes teem with detail, but the clutter never becomes a distraction. It’s the difference between a room filled with polished, artfully arranged personal artifacts and one crammed with piles of clothes and pizza boxes rattling with crusts; it’s obvious which one you’d rather spend time in. While Medicine represent a distinct era of shoegaze history, it’d be a shame if they were relegated to its annals because there’s a lot of life left in this band. Don’t let their lofty past prevent you from tuning into their present.