Young Magic – Melt (2012)

Psychedelic pop debut Melt of weird trio Young Magic.

The origins of this album are certainly fascinating; members Isaac Manuel and Michael Italia had been doing some travelling, couch surfing and generally hitchhiking around Europe, South America and Mexico, recording snippets of sounds on their journeys as they went, before getting into contact and meeting up with mutual friend Melati Malay in NYC, where Melt was then conceived. The backstory alone is enough to make Young Magic’s debut an interesting release, the question is does it deliver musically?

As the name would suggest, Melt does exactly what it says on the tin; it is a gloopy, gauzy fusion of all sorts of sounds, from Western Africa tribal sounds to hip-hop and soul, with electronic and dub overtones occasionally thrown into the mix. This delicious agglomeration of sounds is casual, laid back; the opener “Sparkly” is light and airy, floating and rolling along on a dreamy electronic haze, with soft, cooing vocals, lo-fi guitar, rich and thumping bass and tambourines to top the maximalist atmosphere off. “Slip Time” has distinct dubstep beats and wobbles and a largely tribal atmosphere; distorted screams slipping their way in represent the darker side of this album.

“You With Air” is my favourite; it’s a slick, hip-hop influenced, quasi-rapping number with some wibbling synth lines and plenty of background samples (children playing mostly). Like much of the album it’s floaty but has strong crescendos and pulses that keep you from flying off. “Night In The Ocean” follows in its footsteps, again bringing hip-hop and R’n’B in, but with heavier beats and vignetted guitars piled on top. Then, as we progress into the second half, things start to become blurry and it begins to live up to its name. Tracks begin to blend into one another and become more mellow, with “Cavalry” bringing in a future garage feel with helium vocals while “Sanctuary” and “Bringing Down The Moon” become more sparkly but lose a lot of the drive and energy the early tracks established. The structure and essential feel is still there but the experience gets much less interesting. Vocals become buried by complex, indistinguishable textures and lose all drive, becoming so diffuse as to be pointless.

A solid debut for sure, especially in the psychedelic, beat driven first half, but one that tries far too hard to be laid back and combine far too many ideas and genres. There is a wistful nostalgia of summer nights in foreign climes here that Young Magic are trying really hard to put across; sun drenched, cloudless, dry places with happy memories and no cares in the world. They just try a little too hard to be casual about it.