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Friday, March 24, 2006

Album Review: Medl - Medly

Just in time for spring, our friends Medl have put out their first release, available as a free download from their spankin' new Vocoid netlabel. It's an airy and melodic set of songs, and it's making me pine for the warmer, sunnier days that are (hopefully) just around the corner. I'm not going to try to pin it down to a genre, but I hear hints of Plaid, dashes of Mouse on Mars, some Solvent, ISAN, maybe even a little To Rococo Rot, and all tied together with an indie-sensibility reminiscent of The Postal Service without the vocals (or maybe Dntel would be a more apt comparison).

Medl - Medly (or click here to download a zip of complete album).

There are a number of different styles at work on this album, so a review of a few individual tracks seems in order.

Nother Rainy Day

This is the last track on the album, and the one that I had to listen to three times in a row this morning during my train ride into the city. A brisk, simple 4x4 beat drives a playfully interlocking set of quizzical, wistful, happy-yet-sad melodies. The track is uncluttered and well-crafted, with everything in the right place and nothing hanging around for long enough to dominate. This rainy day lets in a lot of sunshine.

Feliz Naviblah

This song is centered around a soaring, sustained cluster of synth notes that twist around, expand and contract, recede and then burst into the foreground, and playfully converse with the beat that merrily chugs along underneath. The vocal sample that sneaks in midway through compliments all of this perfectly, and cracks me up every time I hear it.

Stuff Goes Back

A frantic, angular, crunchy melody screams over most of this track, and a mightily obscured vocal provides emphasis and and a sense of mystery. If you like Plaid, grab this one and you won't be disappointed.

Soft On The Tarmac

Another wistful, sunny song for lazy afternoons, sitting by the pool, and maybe remembering your childhood in the 80s. This one taps into some instrinsic sense I have of what makes a song emotional for me -- certain chord changes, certain timbres, certain melodic devices that were popular in the 80s -- that and filters opening up. In particular, anything that remotely resembles a relatively obscure New Order track called Your Silent Face that for whatever reason packs more emotional punch for me than almost any other song. Soft On The Tarmac showcases Medl's talent for achieving this kind of feeling.

Summer Came Late This Year

This track kicks off Medly with a bubbly, straight ahead "melodic IDM" sensibility. It bookends the album nicely with Nother Rainy Day at the other end, each track coming at you with some of the same sensibilities but carried out in a different way. Whereas Nother Rainy Day's parts intertwine in a pretty egalitarian fashion, Summer Came Late This Year has one melody that is clearly in the lead -- and it will probably get stuck in your head. You'll be humming the bassline on this one too.

The rest of the album ain't bad either... We're looking forward to more from Medl.

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