Young Magic’s debut LP, Melt, on the surface has all the makings of another stellar nü-psychedelia album: intricately layered vocals, swinging melodies, tribal drums, fancy distortion and impressive climaxes. The songs also maintain a solid flow, transitioning well between each other and keeping a high level of cohesion throughout the album. However, while most individual moments on Melt are enjoyable enough, the album on the whole is a tad too predictable, which ultimately hurts its potential for staying power and holds it back when held against other forward-thinking indie rock contemporaries.
While the overall album may not challenge traditional conventions, some of the individual tracks are resounding examples of psychedelic excellence. “Sanctuary” effortlessly achieves an ethereal mysticism with swinging vocals balanced on top of ritualistic drum claps and a looping sitar. The track also transitions nicely into “Drawing Down The Moon,” which stands out in part because of its economy, building magnificently up to the point at which the vocals arrive, more than halfway through the song. Unfortunately, these two fantastic tracks are the last two cuts on the album. Ideally, they could have been a jumping-off point for the band, but they stand as a testament to what could have been, and leave the listener desperately wanting more.
Melt can be emotionally gripping at times with crooning, moaning harmonies over distorted strings and drums. However, with mostly unintelligible lyrics and muddled themes, I found it difficult to derive much substance behind the aesthetic overtones. As mentioned before, Melt is generally at its best when the lyrics are used sparingly and purposefully. “Sparkly” is a first-rate performance and a prime example of the “less is more” model; it focuses on rhythmically cascading drums and choral background singing, rather than lead vocals.
Melt is an album that captured my attention at first with unique, psychedelic sounds and a cohesive atmosphere. It felt vibrant and colorful within the first few listens, but much like the album’s cover art and title suggest, the vibe began to dissipate with time. The final two tracks still manage to stun, but most other songs on the album lack the same replay value. With parallels to Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio and Yeasayer, Melt is a fun release, but I can’t help but hope that on future recordings, the euphonic moments evolve into more provocative and meaningful compositions.
Video: Young Magic – “Sparkly”