Hi pals, welcome to the 21st century record review, an interactive experiment where you, the reader, will have to do some back ground work before you get to the meat of the matter. This is perhaps the only way to fully articulate what LA based foursome Melted Bodies are at, as this debut album Enjoy Yourself feels like only one component of a multi platform art experiment. So before we go further, scroll to the bottom of this review and brace yourself for the brief media blitz that is the video for Ad People, as the visual assault is as essential a piece of the Melted Bodies puzzle as the music presented on the album. Go on. I’ll wait.
You’re back? Great, let’s crack on. We can talk about the sound first. We’ll get to what you’ve just seen later.
It’s probably a safe bet that the members of Melted Bodies are familiar with System Of A Down and Oingo Boingo because for most of Enjoy Yourself they sound like a fairly accurate approximation of the former covering the latter. What this means, if for some reason you’re unfamiliar with either of those bands, is that Melted Bodies blend downtuned modern metal, the more flamboyant end of 80s new wave art pop and vocals which are more akin to an over caffeinated cartoon character, than a traditional rock vocalist. As you’d expect from that combination, the results tread a fine line between wildly entertaining and profoundly fucking irritating.
Enjoy Yourself feels very much like boarding a high speed train only to find that rather than the usual railings, it’s going to follow the world’s largest rollercoaster track. Speeding up, slowing down, hurling, twirling and spinning out of control at various points, you won’t quite know whether to laugh or vomit. So you’ll do both.
On the occasion where they get the balance right and lean more on those new wave influences, it’s actually a genuinely intriguing listen. The Elfman infused Funny Commercials (and the Five Week Migraine) and Phone Tumour barrel along mischievously, in a way that keeps you guessing, as they dart off in different directions. Similarly, The Rat is a very well written 80s pop song (complete with vocoder) that’s been framed in a Ziltoid Instagram filter. Hell, even The Abbot Kinney Pedophiles – the point where the wackiness and theatricality threatens to become unbearable – has an undeniably catchy chorus.
In the midst of this larger than life affair, they throw something of a spanner in the works with the decidedly more subtle Helplessness. It’s a bit of a show stopper and hints at hidden depths that bear exploring further, benefiting from a slower pace, more sombre air and eerie closing section. It’s all the more tragic that they follow up this glimpse into their more reflective attributes with the utterly turgid Meat Cleanse, a seven minute jigsaw of what feels like left over ideas from the rest of the album, condensed into one surprisingly forgettable piece of music. It’s the final track and comes at a point where they’ve arguably begun to tire their welcome.
Enjoy Yourself is an undeniably clever and deftly written record, and in its unabashed sense of fun, is surprisingly refreshing in the current climate…
See, this is where the non musical aspects, such as the video I made you watch come in to play. Let’s consider the entirety of what’s going on here. Melted Bodies are the first of their kind in some respects – the Manic Pixie Dream Band. Drenched in neon, wide eyed and wild in a quest to skew the consumerist mania and social media driven facade of modern American society, they’ve turned the very core of that mentality – the sense of spectacle – into a means for subversion. But in leaning so hard on that very same spectacle, they seem weirdly artificial. You gaze too long at the internet, so to speak, and the internet starts to gaze back at you. They’re self aware, and not averse to some good natured trolling of both themselves and their audience. They make fun of influencers but are fully aware that in order for the joke to land, they have to crack it through the same virtual channels and deliver it with the same glossy presentation.
Melted Bodies will surely rank as one of the most polarizing and perplexing bands that the metal scene will yield in 2020. Enjoy Yourself is an undeniably clever and deftly written record, and in its unabashed sense of fun, is surprisingly refreshing in the current climate. The energy alone could power the National Grid, and a sense of mischief, such as the one at work here, is definitely welcome, even if the delivery of the satirical element sometimes feels more Sesame Street than Stephen Colbert.
A lot of people are going to fucking hate this record, and this band, and I can absolutely see why – the more cynical listener will perhaps get a sense that the quirkiness might be perhaps a tad more calculated than the band themselves might want us to believe, and that very same sense of satire is aimed at the media, instead of a more meaningful target. Certainly, if you push your tongue too far into your cheek you might be in danger of biting it off by accident. But listening to it, it’s also very apparent that the potential for Melted Bodies to inspire a level of dedication, if not mania in an audience, frankly, massive. I’d wager that audience is going to be in the younger end of the metal demographic.
The major question here is how a record this ‘now’ will stand the test of time. Given that some of the elements of the sound are, unusually, from decades gone by, you could argue it may already sound dated. But this is a start. Like the social media they poke fun at, Melted Bodies will probably grow and change exponentially. Stay tuned to find out.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes