I’ve been listening to Medicine’s new album Home Everywhere for three days straight and I’m still finding new nuggets of aural beauty every time I hit play. Brad Laner, Beth Thompson, and Jim Goodall don’t make cut and dry kind of albums. They make albums that beg for repeated listens. Much like the films of Bergman, Goddard, and Kurosawa, their records have layers that must be peeled back with repeated listens. You find meaning each time you sit down and hit play. Back when Medicine first began making records in the early 90s it was more just coarse, jagged noise with pop melodies hidden underneath. There was very little subtlety in the sound. The melodies and catchy hooks were there, but you got bruised and battered on the way to that pop bliss. Last year Laner, Thompson, and Goodall returned as Medicine after nearly two decades of quiet and gave us the excellent To The Happy Few. It was the sound they had always made, but honed in and more rapturous. Brad Laner had become quite proficient behind the mixing console and his ear for sonic layers and labyrinthine soundscapes came out wonderfully on that 2013 return to form. Now with Home Everywhere, Medicine make a record that’s as challenging and abrasive as it is inviting and beautiful.
“The Reclaimed Girls” starts off in a flurry of noise and static before exploding into a jangly pop gem, complete with what sounds like harpsichord halfway through. The contrast between the harsh noise bomb at the beginning and during the chorus works to accentuate the great pop hook feel in the verses. Goodall, as always, comes across as a proficient and solid drummer. Like another incredible drummer, Spoon’s Jim Eno, he doesn’t use flash and odd time signatures to impress. He uses rock-solid beats and powerful drumming to move the song along, which allows Laner and Thompson to do that magic that they do. “Turning” has an almost robotic, disco vibe to it. In an alternate universe this would be playing on mainstream radio and kids would be playing it at their freshman prom. As it stands, that alternate universe has yet to be found so I’m resigned to put this song on as many mixes for friends as I can. “Move Along – Down The Road”, if you’ve never listened to Medicine’s first two albums, is a great way to get acquainted with their younger, hungry sound. It takes that visceral, ear-splitting screech they perfected on Shot Forth Self Living and The Buried Life and puts it through Laner’s current prodigious studio finesse and gives us something quite wonderful. The minor key bend in the chorus is quite lovely, too. “Don’t Be Slow” ebbs and flows with a drugged-out dance groove with intermittent blasts of chaos thrown in for good measure. “Cold Life” is beautiful pop seen through the looking glass. It has the sound of a Smile Sessions b-side. The harmonies underneath Medicine’s sonic blanket bring to mind Brian Wilson at his absolute best, just before the indoor sandboxes and internal shouting matches with Murray Wilson. “They Will Not Die” is yet another blissful pop stunner, at times musically reminiscent of Out of the Cradle-era Lindsey Buckingham(an artist that in my mind seems like musical brethren to Brad Laner.) “It’s All About You” showcases Beth Thompson’s great voice without all the layers of sonic grime. “The People” has some great jungle rhythms and psychedelic panning that with the proper headphones will make you think you’re floating away in bliss. The epic closer “Home Everywhere” is over 11 minutes of beauty and chaos. It’s almost mantra-like in it’s breezy beginnings; then morphs into something cosmic and inner light-like. Very few are doing what Medicine is doing, folks. Very few indeed.
Home Everywhere is Medicine re-vitalized and busting at their musical seams with ideas and life. It’s an album that’s lush, dense, extreme, and simply stunning.
9 out of 10