“Oh it’s getting heavy” Kushal Gaya sings during the opening salvo of ‘Dot to Dot’, the first track on Melt Yourself Down’s new album Last Evenings on Earth. Gaya isn’t joking. MYD’s 2013 self-titled debut is pop music next to Last Evenings on Earth. The compositions are more complex, the music tighter and everything has an immediacy that was missing before.
Three years ago, MYD sounded like no one else. Their debut was the perfect mix of jazz time signatures, punk attitude, Afro-Beat rhythm section and electronic blips and beeps filling in the gaps – as if Fela Kuti was fronting Antibalas while they ran through some punk numbers. Now they’ve returned and it’s business as usual, and that business is making forward thinking music.
The real power of Last Evenings on Earth comes from its intensity. ‘Dot to Dot’ kicks the album off in fine form. Hip-hop rhythms are interspersed with one of the tightest horn sections since the J.B.’s, while the while the bass rumbles on with enough power to cause landslides along the Jurassic coast. Lead single ‘The God of You’ follows and MYD’s blueprint is in full effect, except everything has a slightly aggressive slant to it. Wareham and co are pissed off and have something to say. This focused fervour is refreshing and gives the album an edge over its predecessor.
‘Jump the Fire’ shares more than just a name with Harry Nilsson’s 1971 classic. Both open with shouty vocals, but whereas Nilsson started off as a straight rock track that mutated into faux-psych, MYD never deviate from their electronic jazz mission statement. Synth loops and blips are underpinned by raspy horns that would make Hypnotic Brass Ensemble jealous. It’s the standout track on the album. The horns swirls around you like a maelstrom trying to pull you inside out, but bass and beat keep you grounded. The opening guitar riff to ‘Bharat Bata’ is possibly the catchiest thing not only MYD have ever done, but that has been released this year! It lodges itself in your brain and coupled the vigour and energy of the playing it’s hard to ignore.
One of the most notable differences on Last Evenings on Earth is that lead singer Gaya now sings in English instead of Mauritian. This change is only a subtle one, but it might attract a bigger audience during festival season. A more profound difference is the apocalyptical vibe, though given the title this is hardly surprising. Last Evenings on Earth is as vast and sprawling as their self-titled debut, yet at the same time it’s concise and refined. MYD were once described as 'the sound of Cairo '57, Cologne '72, New York '78 and London 2013'. Let’s update that to London 2018 – this doesn’t just show us music’s current climate, it shows where it could go.
8Nick Roseblade's Score