Rising Parisian Singer Floats Over Weightless Debut

Melody's Echo Chamber--Melody's Echo Chamber--Fat Possum--3 STARS

Courtesy Fat Possum

Melody Prochet may be a rising musical talent, but she is not the star of her debut album, “Melody’s Echo Chamber.” Her sound, rather, is dominated by heavy synthesizers that echo throughout the songs and rob her light voice of its potential. The project’s name is quite fitting, as each of Prochet’s songs is characterized by extreme reverb and soaring, airy vocals blended with 60s rock and enchanting jazz undertones. However, the album is noticeably devoid of catchy hooks or meaningful song development and leaves little tangible memory of what exactly occurred in the musically-induced state of semi-sleep.

Prochet grew up in the French countryside in a musically talented family, and after a last-minute decision to drop her studies of classical singing, she found herself fronting the indie-pop band My Bee’s Garden. From there, she met Tame Impala’s frontman, who invited her band on tour and introduced her to the spacy, synthetic dream-pop sound that has become the foundation of her solo venture and new album.

Having recently moved into Paris, the City of Light, Prochet is perfectly situated to draw upon her cultural heritage with a unique twist, which is particularly evident in “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer,” the seventh track. The rhythmic accordion that propels the track might sound at home in a Parisian cafe, if it weren’t heavily synthesized to match her ambient vocals.

However, Prochet fails to build on the tradition of the French chansons that rely so heavily on lyrical meaning, a shortcoming that deprives each song of further depth. In many of her songs, her lyrics are barely differentiable and she seems to use vocals more to complement and emphasize the instruments. In this way, her style resembles Metric’s “Hustle Rose,” in which the lyrics loop endlessly while the synthesizer’s rhythmic variations drive the song. “Endless Shore” follows this technique, as her voice rises and falls with the eternal tide the title references, but the words still rest somewhere in the hazy mists beyond the breaking waves that keep pushing us back from further comprehension.

The songwriting may not be superb, but each song on the album uses different instrumentation and musical style, giving flavor and variation to her consistently dreamy voice. “Crystallized” draws on a more aggressive U2-ish mix of guitar and drums, while “Mount Hopeless” jumps with a distinct hip-hop beat. The instrumental arrangements, largely overseen by Tame Impala’s frontman Kevin Parker, are the true force in “Melody’s Echo Chamber,” while Prochet herself is just along for the ride. Nowhere is this more apparent than on “Is That What You Said,” which is a trippy tumble through the rabbit hole into dubstep Wonderland; its chaotic sound ends abruptly and clashes with the psychedelic synth-pop flair that characterizes the album as a whole.

After a mostly pleasant if unmemorable ride through “Melody’s Echo Chamber,” the album lands with a solid and unfortunate thump into her final song, “Be Proud of your Kids.” After the climactic ending of “Snowcapped Andes Crash” (which literally ends with a bang), “Be Proud of your Kids” seems out of place. The song features a young child babbling in French who clashes uncomfortably with the falsely cheery synthesizer and muddled vocal harmonies. There’s no doubting that French children are adorable when they talk (if you doubt it, just go YouTube French children, and you’ll change your mind), but this song was more an ad for good parenting values than an artistic achievement.

“Melody’s Echo Chamber” is a decent first album for Prochet, and her background in classical music makes her compositions audibly intriguing, but she still has a lot of learning to do. For now, her album is best listened to as background music for studying. Highly enjoyable, but equally forgettable.

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