[22 November 2009]
Whether you’re caning the local rehearsal rooms, shutting yourself in your bedroom for hours on end with just your guitar—or even just boning up on stage presence via Guitar Hero 4, every band knows the most essential part of being an up-and-coming band worthy of anyone’s attention: practice makes perfect.
But when doesn’t practice make perfect? There is a theory that you can actually inadvertedly exorcise all the feeling out of music with too much repetition. So, keeping it fresh yet actually knowing what you’re supposed to be playing? Thinking about it, most bands seem to manage it…
Which brings us to The Mellencollies, a band that you’ll struggle to find out anything about, even with the help of Google. Even with a name like that? Yes. So, they’re elusive. And there’s an air of mystery about them. And that name… A mischievous misspelling melancholy suggests originality and emotional depth.
But like waking up in a pool of your own piss after a hedonistic, alcohol-fuelled bender, if at first you’re unsure of what to expect, eventually the stench gives it all away. And similarly, less than five minutes into Goodbye Cruel World it’s clear what the score is. If we do know one thing about The Mellencollies, we now know there’s nothing particularly special about them. Or original. There’s not even the stench of piss. Because like every authentic, redeeming quality they may have actually had at some point, it’s been airbrushed out in the production process leaving a shiny, yet soulless bunch of sorry excuses for songs.
At times you can hear the remnants of a good tune, and if it were stripped back to the bones, Goodbye Cruel World might be full of them. ‘‘Bullet In My Sunday’’ and ‘‘Let It Rain’’ both benefit from good choruses. But ultimately they’re not built to last, and after a few listens the soulless, forced emotions are all too apparent. Annoying, even. And the use of synths on the former don’t so much suggest a penchant from trying something different as a lack of direction.
The fact that they try to embody a ‘70s punk spirit though with ‘‘You You Yeah Yeah’’ and ‘‘Money Money Money’’ is almost laughable. In fact it’s embarrassing, like watching your dad do Pretty Vacant on karaoke. What made punk was the chaotic, DIY nature of those bands from the ‘70s. The Mellencollies have none of that raw charm, lack inventiveness and, while boasting some of the simplicity of early punk, it all just fails to convince.
It doesn’t end there: ‘‘All I Want’’ and ‘‘Maybe Someday’’ suggest they’ve got a delicate side – think solo Rod Stewart in the early ‘70s - but again they’re completely devoid of any real depth – due mainly to some truly anodyne lyrics.
And that, at the end of the day, is what proves to be Goodbye Cruel World’s worst undoing. Over-produced and performed to perfection to the point where it’s as soulless as a provincial shopping mall, Goodbye Cruel World has no depth. Maybe, back in their early days, The Mellencollies were exciting. If they were, it’s a shame they didn’t capture it before it was too late.