Melodine is the brainchild of vocalist, all round musician and songwriter Evan Frankfort, and those who pay attention to such details will recognise his name from touring stints with The Jayhawks and The Wallflowers, as well as full time band duties with power-poppers Gingersol and Sony act, Maypole.
The difference with Melodine, of course is that Evan has graduated from sideman to frontman and the end result of superbly produced, hook-laden alternative pop-rock begs the obvious question: how come it took him so long to make the move?
The band narrowly missed out on landing a $250,000 recording contract on www.garageband.com. with “She’s the Man”, but such is the sheer quality of Melodine’s material, it’s fair to say that any song handpicked from Appreciation would give most signed bands a run for their money. It’s that good.
The most immediately striking thing about Melodine is not the great mix of clean and slightly left of centre riffs, or the huge hooks; it’s Evan’s unique voice. Right from the opening bars of “Over My Head”, it’s clear that his delivery combines with the band’s overall sound to make it one of the most dynamic, different and refreshing I’ve heard in a long time. Instantly catchy, yet strangely off the wall, “Over My Head” perfectly sums up Frankfort’s ability to pen songs which burst with pop and melodic joy, but which are also characterised by a dark and moody vibe. “She’s The Man” continues this versatility of styles, as it toys between a Beck-like verse and a memorable pop chorus.
Many of the songs on Appreciation were written while Evan was touring with Maypole and have already appeared in demo form in 1999 under the moniker “erbudie scurbudie”. “Petered Out” is a brilliant angst-ridden song which is almost acidic in its bitterness, but is driven by a clean, melodic riff and monster chorus. Ditto the edgy drama of “Even”, written about the time Evan was the victim of a car-jacking in LA from the perspective of the car jacker, and the experience has been moulded into a ball-breaker of a tune.
But there’s plenty of diversity on Appreciation too—check out the acoustic, optimistic “Coming Around” as well as the minimalist “Willeta” and “Chew Your Life”, of which the latter nods in the direction of Radiohead. Also, Frankfort’s association with Wallflowers Greg Richling and Rami Jaffee spawns more than just guest musical appearances, as the trio combine to write “Nothing New”, one of the album’s strongest cuts. For my money, the most commercial track on Appreciation and the one which deserves to make 2001 a busy year for the band is “Judgement Call”, a solid, crunching tune which sounds as though it would not be out of place on a Wallflowers record.
On this evidence, Frankfort is obviously an extraordinarily talented writer, vocalist and producer and with material, a vibe and sound as good as this, it is to be hoped that this gem of a record doesn’t go unnoticed for very much longer.