by Chris Familton
Melodie Nelson’s debut album of 2011, Meditations on the Sun, was a wonderful slice of hazy 60s pop which she has promptly followed up with a record that takes that template and builds on it with an air of confidence in both its songwriting and sound.
To The Dollhouse is very much a period piece in that there is little to give away the fact it was recorded in this day and age. Much of it could have appeared in the 60s or 70s and barely an eyelid would have been batted. Just as equally, when placed in the present tense it doesn’t come across as pastiche. There is a dreamy, almost prescription drug mist that drifts through the album and contributes to a notion of music from another time and within that Nelson (Lia Tsamoglou) has carefully created individual narratives that soundtrack an imagined world, often centred around dreams, heartbreak and romance – generally of the doomed kind. This is pop of the dark variety but not morose or overly sombre. Take Me For A Ride is a great example of how Nelson and producer Simon Grounds have succeeded in bringing well placed levity to the music. That song’s bassline is verging on dare I say it – funky… but very much from the school of Tindersticks and the slowcore Spain. Pre-release 666, a duet with Geoffrey O’Connor and particularly the new single Martha both stand out for their pop nous with choruses that bury deep in your short term memory while elsewhere Nelson layers her vocals in interweaving torchsong patterns to great effect.
This is a more mature and assured set of songs than her very good debut and finds Nelson revealing a genuine ability for writing this type of music in an authentic and utterly entrancing manner.
this review was first published in Drum Media