- 20 Mar 20
London-based group defy genres with maximalist protest songs.
London-based Melt Yourself Down have been blending jazz, funk, avant-garde and punk into an eclectic sound threaded together by punchy saxophone from Pete Wareham and biting lyrics from frontman Kushal Gaya since 2012. Third studio album 100% YES sees the group toy with newer electronic influences and a range of intense topics that reflect the pressing realities of British life today,
100% YES is borne from feelings of extreme cultural restlessness, present both within the lyrics and an aggressive, almost unrelenting sound that persists throughout its 40-minute runtime. Each track feels like a protest song, tackling issues that range from colonisation and forced education on opener ‘Boot and Spleen’ to flesh-melting drugs on ‘Crocodile’ to the tragedy of the Grenfell fire on ‘Born in the Manor’. They all hold an eerie sense of urgency, as Gaya frantically half-yells his way through each song. Yet there is still a sense of optimism tying the whole record together.
While he protests the societal issues at hand through poignant yet poetic lyrics, the instrumentals protest conventions of genre and geography. The sound is incredibly international, incorporating British punk sounds with North African, Latin American and even almost German influences. ‘From the Mouth’ mixes a Euro club beat with entrancing, almost psychedelic saxophone whereas ‘This is the Squeeze’ brings in new elements of cumbia. It’s an incredibly unique result that keeps up a level of exciting uncertainty upon the first listen.
But while the record’s maximalist sound is fun, it becomes too overwhelming at times. By the end, the saxophone begins to repeat itself and each new layer of sound is almost exhausting. Its intensity feels mostly warranted, but a lack of variation makes it lose its bite. Overall, 100% YES is still an interesting and exciting record, bound to appeal to listeners who share a sense of simultaneous frustration with and hope for the increasingly complex nature of the UK, as well as the world.
Out March 27