ALBUM REVIEW: Taking Meds – Dial M for Meds
Photo Credit: Samuel David Katz
Although relatively unknown in the UK, vocalist Skylar Sarkis, guitarist Ben Kotin, drummer Noah Linn and bassist James Palk should be on your radar if you love or are nostalgic for 90s post-hardcore rock. Formed in 2013 in Rochester, New York, Taking Meds have continued to develop over the last decade, now preparing to release their latest effort Dial M for Meds.
Although their album kicks off with a banger, their standout track is their lead single, Outside. With Kotin, Palk and Linn kicking off the song, there is nothing but vibes on this track. With the stylised riffs of Kotin cementing the 90s rock vibe, it is nothing less than a banger.
Furthermore, the song packs a punch with the melodic, cynical hook of Sarkis’ lyrics, and is reminiscent of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life). With both songs, there is a sense of missing out and a yearning to be a part of something, except with Outside, Sarkis is also proud to be the outsider. When asked about the single, Sarkis explained that the song is about “human connection that exists beyond ‘what’s cool’. But we expend a lot of effort trying to arrive there […] as if it’s going to satisfy some actual human need.”
Another song that hits hard is Aftertaste. Stakis is not shy to address his drug and alcohol addiction, and Aftertaste is by far the most meaningful song on the album. Singing from personal experience, listeners catch a glimpse into the person Stakis was and the anguish he felt during his lowest point. However, the song is uplifting and in particular, the line “I used to drive around for cocaine, now I just laugh at my own jokes” confirms how sobriety is going for him. By channelling his life into this song, Stakis indicates that people can come out of addiction and make something, like he did. There is hope.
As the album draws to a close, Kindness is the grungiest filled song. Although not the catchiest song lyrically, this is one for those who miss the days of 90s grunge. Turning the bass up, Palk and Kotin play off one another, creating a sound that would impress Pearl Jam and Nirvana fans. They continue to feed into the rhythm, adding intricate motifs and supporting the emotions Stakis conveys with “I have no kindness for you.” When the chorus hits, they pivot. Linn comes in with a strong beat that screams 90s rock. There are distinct movements as the song progresses, thus demonstrating their skills and ability to create a musical story to support Stakis’ vocals and story.
Overall, Taking Meds’ Dial M for Meds is an album that analyses what it is like to be an outsider. Full of personal tropes, the band do not shy away from owning their experiences, illustrating personal success in overcoming addiction and being an outcast. With sick riffs, dirty basslines and drum grooves that rivals 90s rock and grunge bands, there is so much going for this band; Taking Meds are a band to keep an eye on. They are bringing back the 90s and making it stylish.
Standout Tracks: Memory Lane, Wading Out, See The Clowns
For Fans Of: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Green Day
Written by: Jo Lisney