The Melodic

Effra Parade

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Effra Parade, the first full-length album from the Melodic, begins with what at first sounds like a squeal of feedback, but two seconds later it reveals itself as a sustained note from a melodica that kicks off a spare, minor-key melody leading into the album's first song, "On My Way." This is as close to a rock & roll moment as Effra Parade has to offer; while the Melodics are tangentially part of the same folk-leaning U.K. scene that gave us Mumford & Sons, the Brixton-based group has no truck with rousing Americana, and in many ways they most closely resemble a present-day, non-psychedelic version of the Incredible String Band, both in the austere sincerity of their folkie vision and the internationalism that dominates their songs and their arrangements. British folk may be at the core of many of these songs, but Peruvian and Bolivian melodic elements weave themselves through the performances, particularly in the flutes that dot "Roots" and the frequent use of the charango by group leaders Huw Williams and Rudi Schmidt, and unlike many musicians from the U.K. and the U.S. who've celebrated the legacy of Victor Jara over the years, "Ode to Victor Jara" suggests they've actually listened to his music. However, Anna Schmidt's melodica is truly the soul of this group, a sweet but plaintive voice that rarely dominates the conversation but quietly makes its presence felt throughout, and Schmidt gives the instrument a simple strength that stands out in arrangements that are often full of complementary sounds. Effra Parade was recorded in the group's own jerry-rigged studio, and the performances and production play up the stark dynamics of the Melodic, making music that by turns could be drowned out by a conversation, or bring the audience to their feet with the joy of their music. Effra Parade is often a bit too dry and dour for its own good, and few more numbers like the sensuous "Watch the World Turn Blue" and the playful "Piece Me Back Together" would be welcome, but out of the box, the Melodic don't sound much like anyone else in British pop, and their individuality, imagination, and vision already make them something special.

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