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- To The Happy Few by Medicine
They used to call Domino the indie hoover for vacuuming up all the waifs and strays who didn’t have homes. Captured Tracks are fast becoming the ‘80s/’90s carpet sweeper, re-issuing all the great bands you had forgotten about and re-uniting the ones who are still young/interested enough to perform. Medicine were around at the turn of the ‘90s, generally wafting along in your sub My Bloody Valentine bracket. Now after 18 (though according to our records there was an album in 2006) years they are back. And why? Do they have something to tell us or is it just to cash in on the waves of shoegaze nostalgia?
The resulting effort is a clever but at times slightly sterile record. It has the sound of a ‘band’ record made by one man. Which is pretty much what it is. Jim Goodall plays the drums and Beth Thompson provides the breathy ethereal vocals but it’s pretty much all Brad Laner tinkering away at his computer. The production is clever; opener ‘Long As The Sun’ veers into the kind of oddly unexpected chorus that will appeal to fans of the likes of The Swirlies, going kind of where it feels like, just lacking in a real big hook to make it really special.
The sound is like a MacBook take on shoegaze, everything perfectly in place but you are left wondering how much the vocalist is really connecting with the songs...was she just drafted in for a day’s session for Laner to chop about or is she really thinking about nuance and how the voice will connect with the listener? That all said, the sonic battlefield will be enough for many people, the record has a tight compressed sound that is not unlike a fuzzed out take on Caribou’s ‘Andorra’, the vocals aren’t unlike those on various His Name Is Alive records.
‘Butterfly’s Out Tonight’ has some particularly deft production touches with sounds flying hither and thither, the drums battering away before it all drops down to a perhaps ill-advised breakdown which stops the flow before gaining its footing with the most overly melodic section, with the melody recalling Sleepy Jackson’s ace ‘Good Dancers’ - it’s a little like a shoegaze ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but like a particularly fidgety five-year-old it can’t stay doing the same thing for two bloody seconds.
The record to me needs a bit more light and shade and a keener sense of melody to be a truly successful modern day update on the shoegaze sound. Although a valiant effort, I’m struggling to connect with it and my ears hurt, although the final madcap psychedelic assault ‘Daylight’ is perhaps the most realised melody, shifting from one pattern to another and it’s tracks like this that show that there can be well constructed melodies behind the non-stop frantic production tricks.
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