Sans theme I thought I’d take along something new from 2013 – it’s been a pretty good year thus far, with plenty of records I’ve really enjoyed, but I feel like I’ve barely played anything from the current crop at Record Club. Most of them are quite long though – These New Puritans is 53 minutes, Holden is 75, John Hopkins is 60, Boards Of Canada is 62 – and with all four of us bringing albums again, and a baby in the house, I wanted to take something relatively brief. Luckily the debut album by Melt Yourself Down is only 36 minutes… (Even if those minutes are extraordinarily rambunctious.)
I reviewed this record for The Quietus the other week, so I shan’t repeat myself too much by going into the make-up of the band or how individual songs work; suffice to say that Melt Yourself Down is, at heart, a dance record, a party record – despite liking a lot of ‘dance’ records this year (like the aforementioned Hopkins and Holden), it’s this group of live-action (if you will) postpunk afrobeat jazzers who make me want to dance the most, who seem to have the most physically compelling batch of beats.
Good as those beats are, they’re not quite the stars of the show. Partly this is because Pete Wareham is in this band, and thus hyperactive, riffing-not-soloing saxophone is upfront and centre, twisting down audaciously catchy routes, and partly it’s because of Kushal Gaya’s frankly nuts vocals, which take in French, English, Creole, and made-up-stuff. But mostly it’s because of Ruth Goller’s outrageous basslines, which drive Melt Yourself Down with irresistible momentum, oftentimes forcing Wareham’s saxophone to merely mimic their own rhythmic patterns.
You can hear all sorts in Melt Yourself Down’s DNA – no-wave sax punk, Morphine, Acoustic Ladyland, Mulatu Astatke, Fela Kuti, electric Miles, and far more besides – so much that one could almost dismiss them as just being an amalgamation of their (admittedly myriad, and awesome) influences. Except that Melt Yourself Down also have the tunes. Boy, have they got the tunes. Amazing fun.
Graham listened: I must admit the first few minutes of this had me wondering if Nick had come across an album from the CIA’s Psycholigical Warfare program, as it sounded frenetic, to say the least. But it must have made an impression as it is now the only album released this year that I have bought for myself. The wife doesn’t seem to like it which is generally a sign that it is good. There are moments when it does sound like a Moroccan wedding band (if such exists?), a Madness tribute band and a hip-hop outfit have all booked the same rehearsal room, and that’s what makes it great!
Tom Listened: A new one to me, somehow Melt Yourself Down slipped under my radar and I had never heard of it (or them) before Nick played it to us. I liked Melt Yourself Down well enough and sensed that it is one of those records that would benefit from familiarity as it is so busy and energetic. However, after one listen it gave me the impression that it would be one of those albums that, should I ever own it, would rarely find its way onto my turntable despite being a perfectly enjoyable listen once there.