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Parisian Melody Prochet’s pretty vocals or often obscured by the music, but chalk it up to a playful coyness on the part of Prochet, and move on.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Melody’s Echo Chamber
Melody’s Echo Chamber
Fat Possum

Melody Prochet, the classically trained Parisian, moves in ethereal, mysterious ways. Her bilingual lips move, but I can't make out what she's saying. French? English? A breeze of reverb muffles her possibly vital musings. Even Is That What You Said is a wordless experiment in backward-sound synth-psychedelia.

Why does Prochet, a young and beautiful singer who writes words for her dream-pop and Mars-rock project Melody's Echo Chamber, go to special effort to mask her lyrics? A style thing, perhaps. Her otherwise sublime trip – silk sheets in the space lab – is produced and mixed by Kevin Parker, of the hypno-groovers Tame Impala. Let's blame him for softly obscuring her pretty vocals. Or let's chalk it up to a playful coyness on the part of Prochet, call her coolly inscrutable language "Melodese," and move on.

Because the meaning of first track (and lead single ) I Follow You is clear enough – she sings of "trust," I heard that. The music is a gentle whirlpool of paisley jangle and modernized far-out textures. The melody is languid 1960s pop; the melancholy is subtle. Marvelous stuff

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The hazy Crystallized uses broken electronica sounds and a looped trippy bass line in back. You Won't Be Missing That Part of Me sports Prochet at her breathiest, with the chilled singer cooing about a lover leaving. The snare beat is crisp; the vibe is sci-fi. Imagine Best Coast's breathy Bethany Cosentino flying first class to Normandy … on NASA Airlines. "Hello, this is your captain. We'll be flying a jillion miles high, and in unusual directions. The stewardess will be along shortly with Tang and psychoactive thrills. Her name is Melody. She speaks Melodese, so don't ask her any questions. Sit back and enjoy the ride."

The album's landing is the trippiest of the dippiest. Be Proud of Your Kids is kaleidoscopic pop set to a tight, brittle beat, with a child gurgling gibberish in the forefront. Wild stuff in the kid's head, you have to think. Like Prochet's ideas, it translates fine – from the mouths of babes.



Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me

  • Danny Michel and the Benque Players
  • Six Shooter
  • Three and a half stars

The knee-jerk reaction is to compare Danny Michel's vivid, buoyant 10th album with Paul Simon's Graceland , linking the rhyming one's Grammy-winning musical journey to South Africa with Michel's inspiring trip to Belize, where big-grinned Garifuna vibes were for the taking. Less superficially, though, I hear Simon in the Ontario singer-songwriter's elegant, lively melodies. Lyrically, Michel stands alone. He's a chance-taker, an environmentally aware observer and a seaside sunrise-watcher, who believes that hearts should be wide open and that true spirits need to be shown. A Cold Road gracefully and affectingly uplifts; What Colour Are You? is a question we all need to ask ourselves. Seeing red? Feeling blue? This soul-dazzle of an album is right for you. – Brad Wheeler


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  • Grizzly Bear
  • Warp
  • Three stars

Is there a bigger mismatch between a band's name and their music than the case of Grizzly Bear? The Brooklyn foursome's third album, Shields, is so gentle, they could have recorded most of it in a churchyard during a service without raising the hackles of a single parishioner. Quiet and rhythmically inert, the band are almost self-parodically stiff, so much that the lilting, hummable melodies of songs like Sleeping Ute and The Hunt sneak into your memory like mice through a miniscule hole in the wall. Themes of repression emerge in their lyrical choices as well ("Cloistered from yourself, you never even tried"), but despite Shields's starchy exterior, there's joy here that can't be stifled. – Dave Morris


G.O.O.D. Music Presents Cruel Summer

  • Various Artists
  • G.O.O.D. Music/Universal
  • Three stars

Kanye West's label has notched more successes than most artist-helmed boutique imprints ever do, breaking John Legend and reinventing Common. That doesn't make Cruel Summer vastly superior to any other label compilation – the presence of DJ Khaled and Kid Cudi pretty much sees that possibility off – and West keeps up the wealth-flashing act ("Rolls gold, Jesus piece with the brown ice") he used on Watch The Throne to annoy us 99 per centers half to death. But West does have good taste in the rappers he signs, from Pusha-T of Clipse (who holds his own against Ghostface Killah on New God Flow) to the underrated Big Sean (who's especially sharp on the ominous Clique). Cruel Summer might be more like spring training, but it's still fun. – D.M.


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O Poore Distracted World: English Songs and Anthems

  • Les Voix Baroques, directed by Alexander Weimann
  • Atma Classique
  • Four stars

If it's true that sad music pacifies the spirit, then one could hardly do better than this marvellous wallow in English melancholia: anthems by such 17th century English masters of the doleful as Henry Purcell, John Blow and Matthew Locke, in a rich mix of styles. Some are simple hymns; others seem closer to the continental madrigal tradition; others still have plaintive instrumental accompaniments. Two versions of the Biblical story of Saul and Samuel's ghost, by Robert Ramsey and Purcell, respectively, resemble operatic miniatures, while William Croft's expansive anthem is almost a cantata in the Lutheran mold. These are gorgeous performances – stylish, nuanced and beautifully recorded. We cheer up – as does the music – by the end of the disc. – Elissa Poole

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