Review: Melody Fields – Broken Horse

Melody Fields, a psychedelic sextet from Gothenburg, release their ‘Broken Horse’ EP on Saturday. Following on from their eponymous 2018 album, ‘Broken Horse’ is a light, breezy trip with numerous musical layers and Eastern instruments, creating a warm yet pensive atmosphere throughout. The act take pride in blending their influences, from sunny Californian pop music, to the mysticism of the Far East, to the Nordic melancholic moods of their own heritage, into a fresh yet familiar melting pot.

The EP opens with the distinctly reflective ‘Långsam Död’ (or ‘slow death’, for all of our non-Swedish-speaking readers). It has a droning quality to it, as the verses see the vocals follow the instrumental line. Laden with effects and evoking curiosity with its Eastern timbres and hypnotic drum tom pattern in the verses, it is a sombre beginning to the release, although this mood ascends slowly but surely over the course of the runtime of ‘Broken Horse’.

‘Rhymes of Goodbye’ segues in somewhat unnervingly for the first 20 seconds, where psychedelic tension is built up, before a noticeably ‘brighter’ feel takes over for most of the remainder of the track. The vocal layers are cleverly dispersed, as the four vocalists interlock and interchange between singing the main melody in unison and with tight harmonies to further the trippy sensation of this release. (Listen here)

Title track ‘Broken Horse’ begins with a hopeful-sounding guitar lick. Its introduction of acoustic guitars into the mix conveys a folk-ish vibe, and provide a beautiful sense of harmony into the song as well-chosen chords accentuate the lead instruments, or (several) vocal lines. One imagines being outside on a spring afternoon when hearing this track. (Listen here)

Closing song ‘Painted Sky’ feels the happiest on the album, in some ways, with its relative emphasis on belonging in a major key and multi-layered harmonies. Yet as a slower, longer song, there is plenty of gloom, hopelessness and sadness beneath the surface. This is a strength of the band, in many ways – it is rare to feel two juxtaposing emotions at the same time when listening to one song. One could surely feel differently about this song at separate times, depending on their state of mind at time of listening.

‘Broken Horse’ is an emotional release, musically intriguing and full of seemingly contrasting and disparate feelings. Although the tracks may seep into one upon casual listen, as there are a lot of musical similarities between each song, every track on this EP has its own clear disposition and defined melodic ideas, and the general mood does seem to rise as one track goes into the next. Moreover, the similarities between songs give this release a clear sense of tranquil cohesion.

The vocals are a highlight of the release as well, as the numerous layers of which constantly float between lead melody and harmony, giving a rich, choral sensibility. This is (to a degree) easy listening, as there is a pop sensibility to the song-crafting and the instrumentation is gentle throughout, but the sensations of sorrow and obvious psychedelic context to the EP allow Melody Fields to retain interest and novelty throughout.

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