New Melody's Echo Chamber record is 'far from plain sailing' (4 stars)

Melody's Echo Chamver

Bon Voyage draws on French icons, special guests and newly utilised instruments for a fragmented delivery

French musical autrice Melody Prochet, who records as Melody's Echo Chamber, is a smart stylist with her sonic dial firmly set to retro. She ostensibly draws on the classy chamber pop produced by her home nation in the 60s and 70s with a breathy come-hither vocal delivery employed by ingenious ingénues from Brigitte Bardot to Isobel Campbell. And there is an explicit touch of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg to the Gallic purring here of 'Visions of Someone Special'.

But Bon Voyage is far from plain sailing. Prochet's second album is more of a fractured patchwork, teaming insouciant strings and featherweight woodwind with distorted (multi-lingual) vocals and acid riffola. This latter element comes courtesy of her album guests, Swedish stoner rockers Dungen, who may well have been involved in the decision to record the album in Swedish woodland, as one does.

So, opening track 'Cross My Heart' opens with a cohesive blend of martial drums and swooning strings but, two minutes in, the reverie is rudely interrupted by a skittering cosmic funk interlude with fluttering flutes and jazzy organ, followed by a proggy acoustic guitar break. At times, the cut and paste effect sounds like three different songs playing at the same time: a nod to the emotionally disturbed state in which Prochet composed the album.

'Quand Les Larmes d'un Ange Font Danser La Neige' is the longest, most expansive and out-there track, powered along by bursts of epic drumming (the latest instrument Prochet has added to her personal repertoire), guitar heroics and a spoken word interlude from Pond frontman Nick Allbrook. Such quirkiness threatens to derail 'Desert Horse', where the various helium vocoder sound effects and Zappaesque freestyling fail to coalesce. Prochet has described this track as a 'monster' but the discordance was eerily prescient: as she finished recording the album, she suffered a serious (and so far unspecified accident) from which she has only just recovered.

Out Fri 15 Jun on Domino.