8/10• I Follow You
• You Won’t Be Missing
That Part Of Me
• Some Time Alone, Alone
• Bisou Magique
• Endless Shore
• Quand Vas Tu Rentrer ?
• Mount Hopeless
• Snowcapped Andes Crash
• Be Proud Of Your Kids Two years ago, Melody Prochet was, by all accounts, boring herself silly. Her then band, My Bee’s Garden, was playing twee, if witty French pop with lots of shiny electric guitar and precious few fat synths and blown speakers. Enter psych-rockers du jour, Tame Impala, for whom Prochet’s group opened on tour. The band’s fuzzy, seasick racket impressed her so much that she quit My Bee’s Garden and employed Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker to help deconstruct her languishing musical aesthetic and rebuild it as something altogether more edgy, not to mention downright rocking. The resultant album, the eponymous Melody’s Echo Chamber, treads a fine line between the pure and the debauched.
Prochet is a classically trained singer, not that you’d be able to tell. Her sleepy vocals remain low in the mix, alternating between her first and second languages, although she seemingly favours her second. According to her, “You are able to sing more ridiculous things in English.” Parker never feels too distant. His presence lurks in each phased guitar lick and fuzzy synth part, his reverb-drenched guitar underpinning the musical arrangement, continually threatening to spill over into a rock roar but never quite taking centre stage.
The queasy guitar of opener ‘I Follow You’ is offset by an equally queasy beat before things are rounded off by a reassuringly filthy guitar solo. Similarly, the dirty processed beat of ‘Crystallized’ belies the gentle swirl of softly phased guitars, a fuzzed up bassline finally tearing things up, and then tearing them back down again. ‘Some Time Alone, Alone’ is an early highlight, commencing with a neat faux-sitar riff that twangs over a Motown chord progression, filtered through stomp boxes galore.
Prochet often wears her influences on her sleeve, but her relative newness to the genres she currently employs makes sure things don’t get clichéd. Melody’s Echo Chamber treads the line between reassuring familiarity and edgy innovation, so even when things are getting a little bit MBV, or a little bit Stereolab, there’s enough to keep the ear keen.
That said, with things as stylistically tight as they are, the plot begins to unwind at the halfway point, resulting in a slightly front-heavy album. The exhilarating cacophony of ‘Endless Shore’ is the album’s musical apex, with the later ‘Bisou Magique’ reeling along like Claudine Longet fronting The Horrors circa Skying. Elsewhere, ‘IsThatWhatYouSaid’ feels like filler, albeit filler of the highest calibre; a haunting collage of backwards guitars and dreamy synths, it’s what Radiohead’s ‘Like Spinning Plates’ would sound like if it were running for a bus.
There’s room in the Chamber for improvement, then, but this is still one of the most promising debuts of the year. The contrast between Prochet’s sweet, impassive style and Parker’s raucous arrangements makes for a warm and solid record, rich in sumptuous tones and kicking hooks.