Medicine Boy - Lower (Album Review)
Medicine Boy, a Dream Noise duo from Cape Town, currently residing in Berlin, released their second full length album, ‘Lower’ on 5 October under Fuzz Club Records. It’s a follow up to their previous independent releases, ‘More Knives’, a six track EP and ‘Kinda Like Electricity’, their debut album, consisting of 10 songs. The band was founded in 2014 by André Leo (vocals/guitar) and Lucy Kruger (vocals/keys).
‘Lower’ in all of it’s beauty seems to haunt you through the nine songs. The aetherial sounds in the softer sections speak just as loud as the rumbling chaotic ones. The vocals from both André and Lucy at times seem to float above the music, almost as if the chaos and the calm are caused by the two otherworldly beings dictating the happenings of the world below and at other times seem to be more part of the music and part of the greater whole. This album has one of my all time favourite introductory songs. ‘Bottom Of The Blue’ leads you in with a dissonant note progression and is followed by a slow build through a song that ends in a devastating storm. This song takes you on a journey of a broken relationship between “you” and an imposing force “you” once loved. The instrumentation speaks volumes to the deliberate restraint from the guitar and the keyboard up until the climax of the song where the swirling and washing ocean of sound erupts into a overpowering storm with a crash of thunder. From the start of ‘Water Girl’ you have a sense of instability that is caused by the aggressive drums and it carries through with a guitar that is creating a bed of noise along with an organ being played that accents the melody line. ‘Water Girl’ is also the leading single from ‘Lower’ and it’s definitely a stand out song with a very aggressive background with both vocals being mostly sung quite menacingly with quite dark lyrics. ‘Carpels’, a personal favourite on the album, starts with a very restrained melody line, offering a resting place for you to just fall into the lyrics, which are beautifully written. The song has a sense of cradling you, where you just absorb everything of it. The opening lyrics from the song perfectly exemplify this. “Pull down your silver blinds Try and get some sleep tonight Dream of America and how she’s calling you In glittered robes and your mother’s shoes There's hours still to come undone To hide away from that vicious sun” Medicine Boy’s mastery of their trade comes through beautifully on ‘For The Time Being’. Beautifully structured with guitars, organs and vocals creating a soundscape so dense that you notice all the little changes in the sounds every part plays. The guitar that fades in and creates a sense that you are being transported to the house referred to in the lyrics, peacefully walking from room to room, experiencing all of the warmth emanating from some sun lit rooms and feeling the cold from the rooms that are set in the shade. The most dancy ‘Lower’ gets is with ‘Diamonds’, a track that feels it was highly inspired by the Post-Punk movement of the early 1980’s. It start with a synth lead groove that forms as the basis of the first section of this multi-tempoed song. The second section that is lead with the first chorus of the song picks up the pace and the intensity as the lyrics seem to carry more weight. After another chorus the song goes back to its original tempo with the same synth lead part as before. The second last song on the album, ‘One Hundred Bodies’ carries quite a weight with it. It starts with a guitar line that gets doubled by a piano and it builds the song with constantly adding little pieces until a crescendo that bursts the song into a calmness it hasn’t had before. The vocals on this song feels like it is more part of the music than anything else. I still tells a story but the vocals seem to be as if it’s only a cog in the main theme of the song.
‘Lower’ delves deep and never feels unpleasant, even with some of the sections that are filled with chaos. It’s an album that uses the contrast between the chaos and the calm perfectly. The instrumentation is masterfully executed and all the vocals and lyrics always seem to have a perfect spot between the music. ‘Lower’ has wonderful production quality put into it, from the recording, through the mixing and mastering. Medicine Boy has released an album that gets better with each listen and every time you listen to the songs you notice different little subtleties put in for your curious mind. Find Medicine Boy online: Facebook Instagram Twitter Bandcamp