The Melodic, best described as a group of world music appropriates from London, has released its debut full length, Effra Parade, out on Anti-. Delving into a world of folk, dub, and traditional Latin American themes, Effra Parade is a gentle lesson in textural sophistication and instrumental variety.
The album boasts almost 20 different instruments played, from orchestral oboes to folkish charangos. But while there is much to be said about the young group’s amicable and noteworthy abilities to command such a large arsenal of instrumentation and an unfamiliar genre, there lacks a sense of emotional depth and translation that is at the core of the folk-rooted album.
The easiest way to describe The Melodic is to imagine Beirut mastermind Zach Condon doing his best Stuart Murdoch impression.
If the soundtrack to any Wes Anderson movie took a semester abroad in Santiago, Effra Parade would be the result.
The Melodic’s own brand of world folk is best absorbed on standout track “On My Way,” which was released in the EP of the same name earlier this year. Pan flutes, folklorico guitars, and melodicas dance an intricate dance through the gentle rhythms and melodies that are laced through the track.
In contrast, the simple arrangement (compared to the rest of the album) of “Ode To Victor Jara” is probably the most powerful moment on Effra Parade, as the group pays homage to the great neo-folkloric artist and political activist of revolutionary Chile.
After that, though, the album blends together in a haze of picked guitars, oboes, and charangos, although “Watch the World Turn Blue” brings a refresing reggae undercurrent to the picture that is both unexpected and tasteful. Still, there isn’t much else that is too exciting on Effra Parade, and maybe this bias is due to the lack of sustained gentler music in today’s average aural palate. But for The Melodic, it’s still something that can’t be overlooked, because it can ultimately lead to the band itself being overlooked.
Perhaps what is wrong with a band like The Melodic in a post- Mumford and Sons world is simply that its (yes, oversimplified and under-appreciated) brand of anti-amped folk seems too tried.
This is not to say that it’s not a good group, or that its songs are not impressive in some technical aspects; there just isn’t enough of gravitas to the album to deem it more than average.
Perhaps this ineffectiveness is merely a symptom of The Melodic’s novice, but it’s a symptom that will stifle the band’s personal appeal, leaving it stuck as a niche novelty, until the soul of the music is more transparent. It’s a beautifully sounding album with an impressive display of musical talent and ambition, and with that last secret ingredient, The Melodic can really become as global as its genre-jumping implies.
The Melodic – Effra Parade tracklist:
- “Last Thing You Said – Intro”
- “On My Way”
- “Imperfect Time”
- “Honey Bee – Interlude”
- “Ode to Victor Jara”
- “Willow – Interlude”
- “Come Outside”
- “Lost to You”
- “Dreams of Air”
- “Watch the World Turn Blue”
- “Piece Me Back Together”
- “Effra Parade – Outro”