Salvia Plath’s 2013 record Melanchole gets a vinyl pressing courtesy of Danger Collective (Boys Age, Current Joys). While the musical landscape has changed considerably in the intervening years many of the current crop of indie lo-fi-ers/bedroom popsters owe a debt to Melanchole. Snail Mail, Waxahatchee and even Black Metal era Dean Blunt could conceivably have cottoned on to Salvia Plath’s brand of abstracted shoegaze.
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Every time I read that band name I read it another way. It is an absolutely maddening way to spend your Wednesday and I simply cannot cope with it. If you didn’t hear it the first time ‘round, ‘Melanchole’ is a record perfectly summative of the 2013 bedroom emo thing, a shambolic mess of feelings hiding underneath blanket basslines and mumbling melodies. It sounds kind of like the heart-throbbing post-rock soundtrack to Friday Night Lights, if it had been performed by Jandek. That’s a compliment.
This reissue justifies a whole era of half-awake songwriters. Salvia Palth’s record not only dug on old bedroom-with-guitar songwriters but took in scarred and distorted noise drone, at once calling upon the dour recordings of Have a Nice Life and the earliest iterations of Tom Krell’s How to Dress Well. Rockist riffs mingle with chasms of discordance on “i don’t want to ask your father or anything”, taking harsh sonics and putting them into the lower case neutral zone the band hold so dear. It’s evocative and numb at once, a strangely melodramatic indifference clouding these impenetrable songs.
You can see why people went wild for it: the weight is there, but vaguely, the feelings scrunched up in badly executed shoegaze and incomplete verses. “i was all over her” has the watery strums of an Alex G song but disfigures the melody like the best Dean Blunt song. It almost feels like parody, but it isn’t, and maybe that ambiguity is the clincher.
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- Melanchole by Salvia Palth
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