Indescribably complicated and bewilderingly pretentious and that’s only the cover. While The Cranberries‘ ‘Bury The Hatchet’ marked a stultifying low in record sleeves – the big eye staring at the naked man in the desert – Oxford’s [a]Medal[/a] may have sunk one step lower. Not only that, but once you’ve negotiated the CD out from its sub-surrealist sheath – tie-dyed boy standing in field – you discover that ‘Drop Your Weapon’ is a dead ringer for Pink Floyd‘s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’.
From the undulating stoner fuzz first track, ‘Is Your Soul In Your Head’, ‘Drop Your Weapon’ sets out to redefine grandiose for the millennium. The pace rarely rises above funereal and Jamie Hyatt‘s zonked-out Thom Yorke vocals only occasionally deviate from a vague, anguished burble, so that in the same manner as thick books or films with subtitles, you’re forced to vainly try to persuade yourself that something this boring must at least be educational.
This, then, is the logical conclusion of rock’s recent search for inner meaning, which has brought us such defining moments of tedium as ‘OK Computer’ and Embrace. [a]Medal[/a]’s debut album fetishises gloom to a point beyond comedy and emerges as a grim testimony to what fatuous, miserable tosh has been masquerading as intelligent pop music these last few years. Sad.