Courtney Love became the subject of the music world’s chauvinism when Hole’s Live Through This was said to have been written exclusively by Kurt Cobain, for no better reason than the fact that Love was married to Cobain at the time of the album’s composition. Similar rumours surrounded Elastica’s eponymous debut, thought by many (presumably male) critics to be the work of Justine Frischmann’s then-boyfriend Damon Albarn.
A similar fate may befall Melody Prochet – the Paris-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter behind Melody’s Echo Chamber – who also happens to be the girlfriend of Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker.
On this occasion, however, the comparisons between the two acts is more than merely mischievous. Parker is credited with producing this, the eponymous debut full-length of Melody’s Echo Chamber. In addition, Melody’s Echo Chamber arrives less than a month after Tame Impala’s ecstatically-received second album Lonerism.
Moreover, the two albums share obvious sonic similarities. Like Lonerism, Melody’s Echo Chamber is a retro-futuristic record, one that funnels the songwriting tropes of 1960s psychedelia through unmistakeably modern production techniques. Some Time Alone, Alone picks up on Lonerism’s solitude theme; in addition, the two records are built out of musical components that are, on occasions, identical.
I Follow You has one of those blistering fuzz-tone guitar solos that were among Lonerism’s calling cards; elsewhere, You Won’t Be Missing That Part Of Me and Mount Hopeless use the same tumbling, almost trip-hop-like drum patterns that cropped up on Lonerism cuts Endors Toi and Mind Mischief. And woven throughout the album are the same spectral synths that were all over Lonerism.
Yet Melody’s Echo Chamber is much more than just a feminised companion piece to Lonerism. There are plenty of special moments here that transcend any comparisons to Prochet’s boyfriend’s band.
Opener I Follow You has a gorgeous, descending melody that seems instantly familiar. The excellent Crystallised has a fluttering bassline and a thrilling, fuzzed-out, Krautrock-y intro. Some Time Alone, Alone is a strident rocker embellished with ice-pick guitar arpeggios that sound like they’ve been lifted from the soundtrack of a forgotten sixties spy movie.
Tame Impala aside, the clearest musical influence on Melody’s Echo Chamber is that of Stereolab. This is felt most keenly when Prochet sings in French on Bisou Magique and Quand Vas Tu Renter? – the latter sounds like an outtake from the ‘Lab’s 1994 masterpiece Mars Audiac Quintet.
If the album has an obvious fault, it’s that it’s frontloaded: all the highlights are crammed into its first half. Towards the end of the record, the psychedelic elements begin to take precedent over the hitherto sturdy songwriting. This results in the novelty track Isthatwhatyousaid (played out entirely in reverse), the nervous breakdown middle eight in the sprawling Snowcapped Andes Crash and the rather cloying children’s voices on closer Be Proud Of Your Kids.
Melody’s Echo Chamber isn’t as strong an album as Lonerism, but then very few albums that have been released this year are as good as Tame Impala’s latest. Instead, it’s a frequently beautiful record that’s a perfect soundtrack to the drawing-in of nights and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. Lovely.