The Melodic – Effra Parade Album Review

English afro-folk-pop ensemble The Melodic will release their debut album, Effra Parade, on November 5 via Anti-. This release will be the follow up to the band’s acclaimed EP On My Way which was released back in June.

The young members of The Melodic came of age in the South London neighbourhood of Brixton amidst bustling streets and open air markets reverberating with a rich assortment of music from around the world. In the distinctly English tradition of sonic assimilation, they found influence in the sounds they were hearing. “Brixton is a real melting pot of different people so it doesn’t feel inappropriate for us to introduce sounds from around the world into our music”, band member Huw Williams explains.

Their new album Effra Parade was self-recorded in a sound-proofed bedroom in South London over several years with a baroque line-up of 18 instruments.

The Melodic

British folk band, The Melodic

The band explain: “Our bikes filled the hallway of this red and white 1920s terraced house and our instruments became part of the furniture.

“We ran wires under floorboards, constructed acoustic panels and converted Rudi’s childhood bedroom into a modest studio, fully equipped with a fold-down bed for those late night sessions. There, under the watchful eye of a Lee “Scratch” Perry painting, we delved into the art of recording and production.

“After so many years of friendship and musical exploration it’s hard to say when this album really began. Being our debut, it is our life’s work to date and a testament to the time we have spent together, the places we have travelled to and the many people we have met along the way; all of which have shaped our experiences and our music.”

Effra Parade is definitely an album where the hard work that was put in to it is displayed in each song. Every song sounds like it’s been filled with love and affection. It’s a personal record for the band and this shows in the final product. Effra Parade is a marvellous album filled with summery, folk melodies and pleasant, simple vocals. There’s no pretentiousness heard on Effra Parade, just good, clean folk songs.

Recent single On My Way appears on Effra Parade as the second track but it isn’t the strongest track on the record.

Plunge is a folk/jazz number with a brilliant walking bass line, jazz piano and perfect harmonies. The band used 18 instruments on this record and it seems like they may all appear on this one song. Plunge is such an interesting track; the layers are bottomless, seamless and intoxicating.

Roots is a beautiful song about never forgetting where you came from and embracing who you are, “Roots are not something you lay/But something you take on your way/And I know mine/Yes I know mine/Roots can be found every day/Shaping thoughts in the words that you say/And I’ve got mine/Yes I’ve got mine.”

Ode to Victor Jara pays tribute to the late Chilean poet-musician-human rights activist Victor Jara. The video has been premiered on PureVolume. It was directed by Louise Thomas and features an inventive mix of marionettes and folk art all filmed in stop-motion animation. 

The Melodic explain: “Victor’s was the voice of a movement who helped inspire a political and social revolution in Chile. There is a depth and tenderness in his voice and guitar playing which captured our imagination. His story reminds us of the injustice we see the world over and his music gives us the hope to imagine other possibilities and we wanted to honour that.”

Director Thomas talks of the video’s distinctive look: “The sounds and the imagery conjured up when first hearing Ode to Victor Jara inspired the desire to create a piece of moving image with the same intent, passion and ideological reasoning that first brought the band to write and play this song. It’s narrative qualities, as well as eclectic mix of instruments and rhythms, lends itself perfectly to the magical nature of stop frame animation, whereby music brings sculpture to life.”

Come Outside begins with breath-taking harmonies singing, “Oh won’t you come outside” before the finger picking guitar riff sets in. This track is particularly folk inspired with string instruments making a predominant appearance. It’s a beautifully produced track which showcases this band’s ability to write excellent songs, harmonise perfectly and produce intricately layered music.

Watch The World Turn Blue starts with a raw recording of the band performing the song in the studio. You hear them singing in harmony, “You never told me you’d change, you’d change, you’d change/You never said that you’d change” before it gets broken up with the comments, “Remember we’re not saying you…” The song then comes into full force, rising in volume. It’s a summer song filled with great lyrics, reggae beats and once again, intricate musical layers that allow you to always hear something new on each listen. The chorus, “When we hold our tongue/We say something too/Hold your breath and watch the world turn” is thought-provoking just as lyrics should be. The Melodic always have something to say in their songs whether it be about love, life or politics – this is what makes them so fascinating and refreshing.

Effra Parade features a few interludes; Honey Bee and Willow. Honey Bee shows off angelic vocals against simple music leaving the voice as the most powerful instrument on this track. Willow is an acapella track which sends shivers down your spine. The Melodic are experts on harmonies and Willow, with the absence of instruments, really highlights this. The interludes allow The Melodic to be heard without the many layers of instruments – it helps to show that the layers to their songs only enhance what is already there and do not cover weaknesses.

The Melodic will release Effra Parade on November 5 through Anti-.

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