Picture this scenario: Three black-clad French guys grow up listening to psychedelic-era Beatles and '70s prog rock, form a band, and then fall under the spell of '90s retro synth acts. Whether you call it pop, art rock, or neo-psychedelia, the result is Mellow, a band whose debut record is derivative almost to the point of obviousness, yet manages to stay afloat based on the diversity of its source material.
Sample of Mellow's "Mellow Part 1," from the CD Another Mellow Spring.
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The opening track, "Shinda Shima," begins with feathery Casio keyboards, then switches to big, prog guitars, processed vocals, and a huge wash of reverb. The song's grand sweep makes it readily apparent why the Mellow musicians cite Starless and Bible Blackby prog giants King Crimson as one of their five favorite LPs. With the second song, "Paris Sous La Neige," however, Mellow changes the album's vibe. The tune, featuring lyrics about the lure of fame sung in deep, muscular tones and backed by cheery vocal harmonies, is a breezy pop number that borrows riffs from the Beatles' "Drive My Car." Immediately after that song, the band reverts to its earlier downtempo style with "Another Mellow Winter," a gauzy, synth-driven track with more tweaked vocals. As subtlety is not among Mellow's attributes, the band's name appears in no fewer than five cuts, all of which remain true to the namesake: Before you know it, the album has floated by like a lazy summer afternoon by the pool.
There has been a buzz in the electro-pop world about Mellow for quite some time. A similar version of this album -- titled Another Mellow Winter -- came out in France two years ago and sparked a mild bidding war; later, the trio toured with French synth-pop act Air. Furthering its connections with that band, Mellow member Patrick Woodcock collaborated on a track for Air's Moon Safari LP, and Roman Ford Coppola (Francis' son) offered to direct Mellow's first video (Roman's sister used Air for the soundtrack to her directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides). However, while Air's '70s aura is audible throughout Another Mellow Spring, Mellow places more credence in a '60s sound that's filtered through the implied haze of LSD and the ghost of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. While not exactly new, Another Mellow Spring is a groovy trip, perfect for your next magic carpet ride.
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