Editors' pick

Medications

Indie
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Editorial Review

MEDICATIONS
Album review: "Completely Removed"

Known for crooked riffs and lurching tempos, D.C. band Medications has long specialized in musical jolts. But the group's impressive new album spins its taste for the unexpected in an unforeseen direction: pop.

The band's first album in five years, "Completely Removed" packs more melodic hooks and vocal harmonies than any local post-punk release in years. Group founders Chad Molter and Devin Ocampo (joined on this album by Mark Cisneros and in concert by Jesse Fox) haven't simply junked their old style. New songs such as "Seasons" blend the jazzy time signatures and jabbing guitar lines of Medications' earlier fidgety mode -- often called "math rock" -- with accessible tunes and blithe "doot-doot-doots." Typically atypical is the lyric-less "Kilometers and Smiles," which shifts from an art-metal fanfare into "oohs" and "aahs" that are half "Abbey Road," half bossa nova.

On "Long Day," Ocampo describes himself as "something that went from bitter to sweet." Yet the album is not so easily categorized, as it offsets its honeyed passages with those that are musically craggy and emotionally uneasy. And if ditties such as "Postcards" suggest the late-'60s Kinks, the album is never merely retro. The group has gone pop, but only on its way to someplace all its own.

-- Mark Jenkins, Weekend (May 2010)