When you think of the greats of Alt-Rock, the first bands to come to mind are often ones like The Cure and Foo Fighters, practically household names in the scene. While Saltlake share similarities with these giants of the industry, at least in their stage presence and live shows, it might be better to focus on their differences when it comes to the public release of their album.
Comprised of four tracks, Medicate Me neither overwhelms or underwhelms, rather it sort of leaves you hanging in between. The tracks aren’t messy, but the way they used the synths seems, if not cluttered, then certainly unnecessary. It’s as though they stitched the track together from the already too-plain fabric of modern Alternative Rock, with very few frills added to make it their own; the song equivalent of a blank, white t-shirt.
Even in the lyrics there isn’t much going on - a modicum of the expected angst and misery of Alternative Rock, but almost none of the rough, scratchy vocals from Henry Gottelier that were present on their previous release, and that much better suit his voice. In fact, it seems as though the band has changed direction with their sound in a way that, while surely displaying their talent in each of their respective parts, doesn’t mesh completely with it. The bass and guitar riffs take a while to fall into place on ‘Badlands’ and ‘Hourglass’ and without severely cranking up the “Alternative” in “Alternative Rock”, especially lyrically, they’re not going to have an easy time climbing the cliff face that is the Alt-Rock scene.
Not having seen them live, it’s hard to say if their stage presence betters the tracks, or if their soundscapes are improved by the setting, but it’s easy to imagine that it does and they are. It’s not a bad thing at all - some albums are just better suited to the stage than to the studio, and unfortunately that’s the case with Medicate Me. It falls just short of the mark, making ripples rather than the waves it could have made, had it the necessary direction.