Local Review: The Mellons – Introducing… The Mellons
Local Music Reviews
Introducing… the Mellons
The Mellons = The Beach Boys + The Turtles + The Beatles
On their debut album, Introducing… The Mellons, Salt Lake-based band The Mellons deliver an impressive introduction to their authentic ‘60s psych pop-influenced sound that embraces their vast experience as musicians, confident harmonies, and the combination of baroque and traditional rock instrumentation. Beyond the sunshine melodies, the rainy-day lyrics explore vulnerability, pain and longing, trying to find optimism and love through intense emotions.
“So Much To Say” immediately pulls the listener in with one of the most Beach Boy-esque lead vocals on the album from Rob Jepson, along with alluring harmonies and tight instrumentation with bells chiming. Jepson explains in an email interview with me that it is about a boy trying to find a meaningful romance. “I wanna get closer / I wanna go deeper / I wanna know it all.”
Going deeper, though, it’s about the innate desire—that we all have—to connect.
A catchy melody from Denney Fuller’s trumpet, along with sleigh bells, begins “Devil’s Advocate” before Andrew Colin Beck’s alluring voice on the chorus declares his desire to always provide an alternate point of view, accepting that the effort may be futile. “Nothing that I say / Can change you anyways / I will play the devil’s advocate.” The Mellons maintain their momentum with “It’s Just a Phase,” which features a hook and instrumentation that highlight the slick, studio-pop sensibilities of the mid-’60s. The clean and crisp harmonies stand out. Lyrically, the song explores wanting to create something new or try something challenging when someone in your life doesn’t believe that it’s worth putting effort into. Jepson shares that the first time the hook “It’s just a phase” is sung, it comes from the perspective of the doubter telling the believer that they’ll eventually forget about their ambitions. The second time, though, is from the believer’s perspective, confidently telling the doubter that their pessimism is unfounded.
“What a Time To Be Alive” draws the listener in as an alluring bassline and piano bounce back and forth, and joyous harmonies sing “la la la la la la” before the catchiest verse on Introducing… The Mellons begins and Colin Beck ruminates about losing himself in the sweep of fame. It’s hard not to be entertained when so much is going on—a consistency throughout the album. In this case, the inclusion of various instruments, such as violin, guitar, euphonium, trumpet and even a typewriter.
Introducing… The Mellons also includes several, mostly instrumental shorter tracks such as “Prelude (In E Major)”, “Salad Made of Butterflies,” and “Postlude (In E Major) which provide emotional breaks for the listener and help the album’s flow, allowing its color to blend. Denny says, “If The Mellons are sticking to our motto of ‘baroque pop for the 21st century,’ then we gotta use some of the baroque techniques of the past: themes, motifs, codas, re-orchestration of the same song, preludes and postludes.” The quirky “Salad Made of Butterflies” is the most intriguing of the bunch, including a driving bass and a cacophony of sound effects and instruments that add to a playful jam, before a man (an older gentleman who went to Colin Beck’s childhood church) delivers a beautifully strange poem by friend of the band, Lainey Wardlow: “Salad made of butterflies / Priestesses with winged eyes / In its primordial disguise / The frog goes out to catch the flies.”
“Surprise” begins with a vulnerable Jepson singing over the piano. “I can see the end from the beginning where I stand / No one else can guarantee it, but you don’t have to just believe it.” The song includes strings and an ever-present trumpet that create a full, grand sound. A couple minutes in, Colin Beck takes over the vocals with an impassioned delivery, and guitars join in, providing a satisfying finish to an album that has yet failed to entertain.
It’s clear the musical experience of each band member (they have all been playing for and apart of various other bands for the past two decades, many with each other) contributes to The Mellons’ palpable chemistry as a band, and it’s felt through the consistently strong vocal harmonies. What impresses me the most is the balance they achieve between genuine technical excellence in the combination of baroque and rock instrumentation while maintaining a sound that is accessible to anybody who can appreciate songs with harmonious, earworm vocals and personal lyrics.
Introducing… The Mellons is an album completely worth your time. By combining a catchy ’60’s pop sound and with unique, baroque instrumentation, alongside the standout, individual talents of all four members, the album feels fresh and engaging, proving The Mellons should be considered to be among the most exciting artists in Salt Lake. Now The Mellons have been officially introduced to the world, I can’t wait to hear what they create next. –Andrew Christiansen
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