by Michael Gallenberger

Effra Parade is the first full-length album of English folk band The Melodic. What is so captivating about The Melodic is their laid-back acoustic sound built around two somewhat unusual instruments, the melodica and the charango, in addition to the guitar. Added to this is an intimate vocal style characterized by beautiful harmonies. Put together, this creates a rich musical texture that is a pleasure to listen to.

While some songs are more upbeat than others and none can really be considered fast, there is always a sense of movement that does not always exist in folk music. The majority of the songs themselves are relatively simple and few of the band members’ individual performances are exceedingly showy, making the music easy for the listener to follow. Again, it is more the choice and layering of instruments that make The Melodic’s sound stand out.

My primary criticism is that while the band has a great sound, their music doesn’t quite convey as much emotion as it could. Many of the songs don’t quite have the sense of development or emotional contrast that they need in order to really reach out and grab the listener’s attention.

That being said, there are some really promising tracks on this album. “Ode to Victor Jara” is a great story song about the power of music and its sometimes fatal consequences. More than any other song on the album, the music does a great job helping the lyrics carry the message. (Notice the change from a minor to a major key and then back again to signal the climax of the story.)

Additionally, the album’s two interludes and the introduction to “Watch the World Turn Blue” add some variety to the album. They include plenty of natural sound and serve as the audio equivalent of an “establishing shot,” providing a sonic setting for the music. Rather than some musicians playing music that floats out of thin air, the music now seems to belong to an actual space in the real world. This is an unexpected and clever technique to give some additional depth to an otherwise conventional album.

Recommended tracks: “On My Way,” “Ode to Victor Jara,” “Piece Me Back Together”

Overall score: eight melodicas out of ten charangos

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