Medicine To the Happy Few

Medicine To the Happy Few
8
Los Angeles' Medicine were always considered the American counterpart to Britain's My Bloody Valentine. They shared a disorienting, gauzy production style heavy on guitar pedal trickery and buried, cherubic vocals, not to mention a label, in Creation Records. Coincidentally, both bands have returned after extended hiatuses with new records this year. Medicine might not have the same cachet, but to fans, the original line-up returning for a new album is just as unexpected and exciting as M B V was. To the Happy Few is their first new release in 18 years, although it sounds as if they never disappeared. Band architect Brad Laner, vocalist Beth Thompson and drummer John Goodall have picked up where the sonic journey of 1995's Her Highness left off. Laner's signature guitar sound — excessive on melody and dissonance — dominates the mix, steering the songs with ear-popping effects that blast walls of swelling psychedelia in "It's Not Enough" and fuse with Thompson's fluttering voice on "Butterfly's Out Tonight." To the Happy Few doesn't feature many standout songs, but as a whole, it's a remarkably cohesive, often unpredictable piece of work. It's also likely the best album containing an actual explosion we'll hear this year. (Captured Tracks)