The Yellow Melodies

New Identities

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New Identities Review

by Mark Deming

Put away your calendar, because the Yellow Melodies don't want to know what year it is. Rafa Skam and his bandmates live in a glimmering Summer of Love of the mind, and their 2010 album, New Identities, suggests they're perfectly happy in this trippy bubble of their own making. The Yellow Melodies have a knack for writing bright, hooky pop tunes, and they give them joyous life in the studio, but they have an equal passion for psychedelia, and New Identities is divided between upbeat pop hooks and drifting, lysergic contemplation, with the two sides periodically merging mid-song. The Yellow Melodies don't necessarily have a problem with the present day -- the tempo and power chords of "No More Parties" suggest they've at least heard about punk rock, and in "So Well Together," Skam expresses his enthusiasm for the Flaming Lips and the movie Amelie -- but this music leaves little doubt that these musicians were most strongly informed by the sounds of the late '60s and early '70s, and they've learned their lessons quite well. The languid flow of the title cut and the faithful but idiosyncratic cover of the Beatles' "It's Only Love" work just as well as the bubblegummy "You Make Me Fall in Love" and the uptempo folk-rock of "Keep Away from Me." And while this is clearly Skam's band, his colleagues have the skill to give his vision both life and personality, especially MÂȘ del Mar on keyboards and flute, and Pilar Aparisi on bass and harmonies. Unlike many bands with such a strong retro feel, the Yellow Melodies don't use their obsession with the past as a substitute for imagination, and New Identities would be a fun, engaging listen in nearly any year.

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