Medal - Liverpool Lomax - 08.06.01
Some bands just exist in a vacuum, bumbling along doing their own little thing. Medal are such as this. Dropped by Polydor after their debut album ‘Drop Your Weapon’ made little impact outside of Oxford, their own imprint El Producto now releases new album ‘Stuntman’ later this month. And as much as lead singer Jamie would dismiss any comparisons with fellow Oxford compatriots Unbelievable Truth, and Radiohead at their mellower moments, there is an Oxford vibe tonight that is all ornate yet dimly lit colleges and smoking rooms, tweed jackets, jazz and upper-middle-class grade cannabis. Nice.
Medal are an assault on the senses, a psychedelic purple haze, leaning increasingly towards their more ‘arty’ sensibilities, whilst still retaining their sonic noise formations. Jamie’s voice - sometimes spoken word, sometimes beautiful vocals, soars in and above the music, whilst New Zealander drummer, Lemmie, keeps a strong sense of groove and rhythm within Medal’s tight-knit framework. On the spliff-fuelled recent single ‘Fingerprints’ (‘We are all terribly excited about discovery of life on earth’), the chorus is little more than ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s, yet completely compensates the song, with a wall of sound that it is probably against the law for laid-back indie-bands to produce. Older songs such as the pop-tastic ‘Up Here For Hours’ and the trip-hop inspired ‘Possibility’ receive their obligatory airing, and still remain some of Medal’s best songs. New album track ‘The Ambassador’ and current single and title track ‘Stuntman’, with its acoustic guitar arpeggios, provide the highlights to a set that is littered with, if not classic song-writing, then classic production and musicianship. It is rare to find a band that can create its sound so well live, a sound that is complex and assaulting, whilst still feeling reserved enough to welcome quiet introspection.
Whilst Medal many only ever sell enough to break even , for those few fans that they do have, they will always provide enlightenment and contentment, and a fresh approach to early twenty-first century rock, that nobody is attempting, apart from perhaps Spiritualized at their most intelligent. They deserve more recognition, but when did that ever stop a great band.