Review: Melody’s Echo Chamber returns after life-threatening injuries

 
FAT POSSUM RECORDS - 2018

FAT POSSUM RECORDS - 2018

The long awaited follow up to Melody’s Echo Chamber’s eponymous 2013 debut is here and I couldn’t be more excited. Not only did Melody Prochet deliver another fantastically groovy album, but she almost never had the chance to.

Prochet canceled the original release date of Bon Voyage and its accompanying tour. In June 2017 she suffered from an accident which caused a brain aneurysm and broken vertebrae. Her family only released vague reports of the incident and in recent interviews Prochet hasn’t mentioned many specifics. The exact details will probably never be known, but I’m glad she’s showering us with psychedelic treats again.

Bon Voyage pulls no punches and gets straight into business. The first track, “Cross My Heart” is the most approachable song for anyone unfamiliar with Prochet’s work. It’s captivating right from the get-go and keeps you hooked the whole time. Through some funky and experimental bits as well. The driving drums do just enough to hold the song together without being overwhelming. An instrumental hip hop break appears out of nowhere but, surprisingly, it works well. Midway through the song Prochet switches from English to French — the vocal melody there is so damn catchy I can’t get enough of it. In French she sings of an alluring scene, “I dance with wolves / Deer and elves / In the forest / Peaceful and enchanted.” Near the end, a guitar solo enters the picture and adds some aggressive distortion just before the song fades out.

“Desert Horse” is a skippable track for me. This experimental and avant-garde song is just a little too out of reach. The track features distorted screams which make me vaguely uncomfortable. There’s another hip-hop-like break here that I don’t think works as well as in “Cross My Heart.” The more enjoyable parts of the song make me want to sway softly with a lover but they’re not enough to overcome the track’s shortcomings.

The shortest track, “Var Har Du Vart?” (Swedish for “Where Have You Been?”), brings the album back to charted territory. Exact meaning is lost in translation but lines like “Where have you been? / I'll see you in front of my eyes when I'm blind / Everything you said / I begin to understand” is full of heartache regardless of language. The song is over before you know it, but it serves its purpose and does it well.

Throughout the album Prochet seems to be recovering from heartbreak. She sings from the darkest points of recovery, “Healing slow, feeling so low / I can't eat, I can't grow / I can't heal my soul.” Other lyrics take on a more depressing-but-positive outlook “Does it matter / Now you’re gone / You can pretend / And fill the void / I left and time / Will heal my soul, soul.” Poetic lines like these are found throughout the album. Prochet’s lyrics come from a difficult personal experience, but she turned the pain into something beautiful. People looking to heal can find a sort of peace through this album by getting lost in the pain and coming out stronger.

While there are many great aspects of this album, I’d consider it a bit of a sophomore slump for Prochet. Or maybe her debut was just that impressive. Either way, I see this album as being shuffled in with second tier psychedelic pop material. It has some great moments but too many have me reaching for the skip button. As a whole, I think the album will be well-liked by devoted fans but turned off by more casual listeners.

Prochet experimented on Melody’s Echo Chamber but kept it easy on the ears. Bon Voyage goes a hair too far. There’s also a little less energy overall here. The songs are no longer structured by driving bass lines, Tame Impala-esque guitars, and full-sounding synths — replaced with more prominent vocals and fluid layers of instrumentation. Regardless, it’s a neat addition to Melody’s discography and I’ll be looking forward to her next release.

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6.5 - Neat

Top Tracks: Cross My Heart, Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige, Var Har Du Vart?

For Fans of: A modern, psychedelic Françoise Hardy  

Pros: Amazing vocals, ambient tracks to get lost in, great production

Cons: A little too avant-garde at points, doesn’t flow well, no defining characteristics