An experimental blend of genres that is more admirable for its bold vision and diversity than for its quality and approachability.
Within the first few moments of Melody Prochet’s eponymous solo debut (released under the moniker of Melody’s Echo Chamber), it’s clear that there’s something special about this French performer. Formerly of the Narcoleptic Dancers and My Bee’s Garden, the singer decides to explore fully her psychedelic dream pop interests here, and the results are majorly intriguing and endearing. Although it’s a bit inconsistent and inaccessible, her inimitable combination of density and delicacy somewhat make up for the flaws.
Prochet recruited Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala) to produce the record, and he does a masterful job, encasing the core pop songwriting in a trippy electronic haze full of beats, synthesizers, and distorted effects. In a way, Melody’s Echo Chamber feels like the perfect synthesis of 1960s hippie female songwriters and eccentric production masters like the Fiery Furnaces, Super Furry Animals, Radiohead, and the Flaming Lips. Admittedly, the sequence gets a bit repetitive by the end, but it’s almost indisputable to say that Prochet offers some charismatic melodies (pun intended) and interesting sounds along the way.
Opener “I Follow You” is easily one of the most loveable, approachable, and memorable tracks here (which is why it’s the main single from the album). Prochet sings a lovely verse and chorus over fuzzy guitar arpeggios and reserved percussion. Her voice is charming enough naturally, but the way it’s affected by echo makes it even more alluring. Eventually, she ventures into countermelodies, which enhance the magnetism, and the subtle usage of horns makes the piece a bit more vibrant.
“Crystallized” is patchier, as it’s centered on beats and other loops (Prochet’s voice acts as a complement rather than a focus). Whether this is a positive or a negative is up to the listener (obviously), but it is definitely a noteworthy change in direction. Likewise, “You Won’t Be Missing That Part of Me” incorporates more psychedelic effects into the formula. Fortunately, her songwriting reclaims its dominance on “Some Time Alone Alone”; although it’s not as touching as the opening track, it’s definitely appealing.
Moving on, one of the strongest tracks here is “Bisou Magique”; whereas the odd production was somewhat of a hindrance before, it’s much warmer and more exciting here. The track acts as a nice instrumental intermission, and it leads into “Endless Shore” well. As for this track, it succeeds due to its dynamic shifts, as the madness partially gives way to showcase Prochet’s lone voice. “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer” is one of the most intriguing tracks on Melody’s Echo Chamber. It’s highlighted by starry keyboard timbres and a danceable rhythm, as well as another pleasant melody. There’s definitely a “Revolution 9” element to the backward looping in “Is That What You Said”, which, like the Beatles’ most obscure track, makes this piece simultaneously fascinating and unlistenable.
The final two tracks on the album are “Snowcapped Andres Crash” and “Be Proud of Your Kids”. Both are among the record’s most colorful and brilliant contributions. The former is essentially a collage of intertwining sounds, samples, and melodies, and they all blend together surprisingly well. There’s a ton of cool instrumentation here, too. The concluding track is arguably more direct, but its production is still remarkable. Namely, the incorporation of children’s voices adds a sense of wonder and mystery to the jazzy foundation.
All in all, Melody’s Echo Chamber is a distinctive experience, which is both good and bad. On the one hand, Prochet’s vision is unique and fully realized thanks to bold experimentation and confident execution. Any artist who isn’t afraid to challenge his or her listeners by going against musical conventions deserves applause. However, these fearless steps sometimes make for impenetrable elements. Some of the “music” here is downright annoying and monotonous, especially when their peculiarities overshadow the songwriting. Overall, this LP won’t appeal to everyone, and it’s unlikely that anyone will like everything about it. Still, the music industry could use a lot more innovation, and Prochet definitely offers that.