What do you get if you mix the sound of downbeat producers Air with the creepy vibes of David Lynch, the sultry vocals of Melanie Pain and then force it all through a psychedelic lemon squeezer? Well, this, I imagine.
Actually, French musician Melody Prochet is none of the above – and a little bit of it all. Her 2012 debut, under the label ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’, was a collaboration with Aussie producer/songwriter Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) – a crazy mix of eclectic, melodic vocals and trippy production. On her new release, Melody Prochet has doubled down on the psycho-pop glory of her self-titled debut, while retaining just enough grunge in the final production to subtly smudge up her sexy Franco-pop breathlessness. This is all courtesy of her new Swedish collaborators Fredrik Swahn (The Amazing) and Reine Fiske (Dungen).
Her fearless attitude to music may also be a result of her recent recovery from last year’s car crash which left her with a brain aneurysm and broken vertebrae. This comes to mind instantly in the opening song, Cross My Heart: “I can’t keep falling from so high.” The arrangement reminds me of early Cocteau Twins, especially it’s a dreamy mashup of acoustic guitars, hip-hop beats in the bridge and, inexplicably a mediaeval flute.
There’s a spot of self-improvement behind Breathe In, Breathe Out, which swings wildly between moods and tempos, even though the oddly placed whistling segments.
However, I was a bit perplexed by Desert Horse, with its bizarre Arabic flourishes, Latin percussive beats, and scrambled voice samples. “So much blood on my hands, and there’s not much left to destroy.” This is like Bjork fronting a new iteration of Belle and Sebastian.
Most of the songs on this disc are in French (the above quotes are translated), However, there are interludes and of English and Swedish such as on Var Har Du Vat, a short and sweet traditional Swedish folk song. That one came as a bit of a surprise. A nod to her producers, I guess.
In some ways, those songs were a sort of calming influence before the mind-blowing onslaught that comes on the second half of the album. Tracks like Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige (When Tears of An Angel Make Dancing Snow) have this crazy, unhinged poetic aesthetic to them. Yet Prochet sings in a playful, coquettish whisper. If you’re not ready it can almost be off-putting.
On the other hand, Her music has a slightly spiritual atmosphere, with chiming bells and other zen come-downs on the fading strains of the mirror-ball disco of Visions of Someone Special.
The theme continues on Shirim, which might well have nicked one or two funky riffs from Nile Rogers during his time working with Daft Punk. Given all the shit she’s been through who can blame Prochet for wanting to cut loose here and there.
Overall, this is a challenging listen but if you hang in there it’ll be well worth the wild disorientating ride. If you like your pop music mashed, strained and grained with plenty of sexy, breathless vocals then this one is for you.