Mellowdrone - A Demonstration Of Intellectual Property EP (Artists Direct)
release date: 14 April 2003
Mellowdrone was born with the rather more conventional name of Jonathan Bates in Venezula. This slightly pretentiously titled mini-album is intended as a taster to his first proper album, available in the Autumn.
All six songs were recorded in Bates' bedroom but this doesn't sound lo-fi in the slightest. In fact, the professional production adds greatly to these songs, beefing up the slighter compositions.
This could accurately be described as a record of extremes. Some of it is extremely good, such as Fashionably Uninivited, and some of it is woefully poor. No More Options wants to sound big and important, but comes off as a sub-Radiohead dirge that wouldn't even grace a Muse album. On the other hand, Beautiful Day slinks along on an almost funky bassline, with Bates' vocals sounding for all the world like The Eels.
Probably the most frustrating aspect of Mellowdrone is his lyrics. It's not that they're bad - far from it. On too many songs he mumbles the vocals, meaning that we miss such lyrical gems such as the caustic "you're just so amazingly cool, because someone wrote a song about you" and "fuck you and your mass media toys that make being alive such a chore".
Bitelip finishes off the album in a suitably doomy mood, and the ever present atmosphere of angst and anger means that the 20 minute running time of the EP passes very slowly. The lightness of touch of the instrumental opener Tinylittle proves deceptive, and perhaps for his full length album, Bates could concentrate more on this side of his music.
Still, Bates is obviously talented and A Demonstration Of Intellectual Property is well worth a listen, if you're not expecting anything too startlingly original, or too many laughs come to that.