Review: Young Medicine – Interlinked

Artist: Young Medicine
Album: Interlinked
Label: Independent

As a music journalist, I’m particularly fond of bands who pave their own musical journey. By this, I mean bands who have no genre restrictions. One moment, they can be playing pop-punk and the next thing you know, you get a “blegh” and a nasty breakdown. I’ve never been a fan of genre labels but it has become necessary in some form. While not as deep into the Kansas City music scene as I’d like to be, no one can deny that Young Medicine is one of the biggest names in KC, in recent memory. Formerly under the moniker Bella Muerte, Young Medicine combines 80s-tinged synth rock with elements of pop and post-hardcore to create something truly unique. For starters, they’re one of the only bands I’ve ever seen live that employs a keytar player (Bret Liber, who is one of the most energetic members of the band, taking on keys, vocals and keytar.)

With multiple single releases under their belt, including a couple of covers, fans have been clamoring for a full release from the band for awhile. Good things come to those who wait, as their debut, FULL-LENGTH album, Interlinked, arrives August 16th and will be celebrated with a release show at Aftershock (details below). What does this self-recorded, self-produced album hold in store though? Let’s dive into cyberspace and blur the lines between fantasy and reality, as we discover the answers.

A clear influence from bands like The 1975 and Don Broco becomes apparent in both their music and their artwork. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Some of the best bands wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and create a nice homage to their heroes. Eerie, dark pop synths take over the listener as “Within Cells” begins, an appropriate intro track that truly sets the pace for the remainder of the album. Equal parts club-banger, hard rock and dreamy atmosphere, it really gives you an idea of just how versatile their sound can get. “Interlinked” picks up and distorted, driven guitar riffs create a darker ambience and Liber’s distinct vocals pierce through. While this track is a bit more pop-influenced than most of the album, this is a great example of how infectious their melodies can be.

Then you have tracks like lead single, “Shinju,” which feature japanese-style synth/keys and sound like something straight out of an anime series. Even the message of the track resonates with that idea. Overall, this is a much more balanced track in terms of how they blend the different genres they blend in. Synth-pop, alternative rock and post-hardcore had a love child and this is a definite highlight.

Of course, you can expect to hear a few of your favorite YM tracks in a new light, such as “Living Fiction,” which has a much more “epic” installation in terms of where it fits in the album. This track has always been a favorite of mine but the way that the band play with the atmosphere and the cinematic quality with which it has been presented in this context is something to truly be admired. There are also new versions of “Incommunicado” and the ever-pooular “Little Miss Anthropy.”

One of the best parts of the album isn’t even a full track but rather an interlude called “This Breaks the World,” which features more Japanese cultured keys, along with several excerpts of tracks on the album, in a more electronic format. In the background, faded out are Liber‘s vocals with some form of autotune or vocoder that provide him with an inhuman presentation. This being the halfway point of the album, it flows perfectly into the aptly-titled “Not Human,” which is one of my favorite newer tracks. It’s worth noting that my kids have heard this one so much that they sing along (being 2 and 5, this is pretty cool and speaks to their ability to create an infectious hook.)

My one gripe with this album is that, while epic in its presentation and overall composition… it begins to feel a bit monotonous at times. Their sound, while unique, is something that can become predictable. Luckily enough for them, this works wonders in this context. Rather than becoming boring, it feels more uniform and it blends into the concept of singularity. Each track offers it’s own unique take on blurring the lines between genres and it’s going to be interesting to see how some of these come to life on stage. Be sure to pick up your copy of Interlinked and, if you live in the KC area, go celebrate this momentous occasion with the band, as well as Famous for a Day, Mocklove and Essenger tomorrow night at Aftershock! Get those last minute preorders in or buy the album by clicking the link below!

Pre-Order Interlinked