School Drugs - Modern Medicine (Cover Artwork)

School Drugs

Modern Medicine (2019)


New Jersey's School Drugs have dropped their new LP Modern Medicine, and while the drugs themselves may be modern, the tunes are admirably vintage.

The 19 minute full length rips open with the title track, packed to the brim with a heavy repeating riff, and aggressive vocals. The album quickly shifts gears with the slower melodic guitar leads on "Pathetic.Desperate," which quickly devolves into double-time drums and bass. The energy continues on with super-fast Bill Stevenson level snare rolls into "Nervous Eyes."

The thoughtful production of Modern Medicine is especially enticing to a listener overwhelmed with hardcore punk acts, as sometimes even the simplest engineering technique or plug-in can mar the needed analog authenticity of the genre. The charming equalization automation on the opening of "Nothing Grows," to the New Wave TSOL era guitar delay and piano on "Overrated Life" prop the decently written punk rock songs into something you want to come back to.The sonic variations crumble into "Validation," diving immediately back to aggressive vocals and reverberated guitar reminiscent of East Bay Ray. "Destined Days" could have been dubbed on a cassette tape in 1982 and the listener would never know the difference, though the timeless punk rock gem is served on top of a sample from Weird Al Yankovic's classic UHF. It fits.

"Gimme Doubt" is perhaps the heaviest song on the album, and is a great showcase as to how tight-knit the band's instrumentals are. The song connects with "Wash Away," clocking in at just over the minute marker, but still giving every band member a moment to stand out. Album closer "Joyless" also crossfades with it's predecessor, offering a variation of tempos between a slower intro and break-neck verses. As the only song to remotely approach three minutes, the band indulges the extra 60 seconds for an epic and retrospective reprise of the lead guitar part on piano, bathing in ritardando and guitar feedback.

Modern Medicine is a banger, and a breath of fresh air that not only pulls off homages to bands like Bad Brains or JFA, but allows School Drugs to stay true to themselves, pumping out pitted punk rock in 2019.