Review Summary: Pop rock quartet Melee shows that they can compete with the best on their sophmore album, Devils & Angels.
Melee is a piano-based pop rock group from Orange County, California. They first came onto the music scene with their debut album Everyday Behavior
, released in 2004 to not an awful lot of attention around the US. The punkier sound of Everyday Behavior
sounded as if the band had yet to fully mature, appearing to be just another poor indie pop band. Even though the weaker aspects of the band bled all over Everyday Behavior
, there some strong indications of what would come with their next release. In Devils & Angels
Melee reveals their matured sound, incorporating more atmospheric feelings into the music while still churning some upbeat, poppy tracks. The immature, unpolished works that their debut album was stricken with are now gone, being replaced by genuine pop rock tracks that distinctly show what Melee is capable of.
The lead single Built To Last
shows the new sound of the band, with a removal of any punk influences. The guitars are no longer a forefront with the piano blending in the rest of the music, they now all mix together to create a type of “warm, fuzzy feeling” song that does not disappoint. Even at times when guitarist Ricky Sans puts in a lead, the smooth tone instead adds to the mood of the song rather than stick out like a sore thumb. One of the more piano based songs, For a Lifetime
continues to carry on the sound that was made clear with the lead single. The band all combines as a whole for most of the album, with each instrument making its contribution. Even the bouncy, upbeat Frequently Baby
makes full use of everything the band has to offer in order to create the ‘good times’ feeling of the track.
But with this mixture of all instruments, it may seem as if everything blends in too often, and instead never gives a particular member a time to take their lead in driving a song. Fortunately, that is not the case, with the guitar driven songs Rhythm of Rain
and Drive Away
being just as strong as their piano counterparts, with Drive Away
having a particularly powerful chorus that was crafted perfectly through the buildup of the verse and pre-chorus. Yet Melee does falter at times, with some tracks sounding like obvious fillers. Love Carries On
is especially guilty of this, with the opening melody being outrageously weak, setting the stage for an especially generic piano rock song. She’s Gonna Find Me Here
is not particularly strong either, with an unconvincing melancholy sound that was already done earlier in the album.
This earlier sad song is Can’t Hold On
, one which describes the tail of feeling down and attempting to get back up again. The first half the song appears to a heartfelt piano ballad that ends quietly and unfinished. But after the softer interlude, the track bursts back out with some added female singers, giving the song a very powerful ending that is found nowhere else on the album. Immediately after Can’t Hold On
is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Imitation
is another piano based song, except with a driving rock feel instead the softer ballad type. The dark nature of the song is crafted through the different piano style that is used during the verses, and yet another strong buildup into an epic chorus. Chris Cron’s vocals and melodies come into full swing on this track, showing just what the singer is about.
Melee shows with Devils & Angels
that they are poised to become a rather large band, offering lush vocal melodies combined with strong piano based tracks, with a stronger feel than any other band of their type. Their style is shown perfectly in such tracks as You Got
, and Built To Last
, which serve as the foundation for what the band can unravel next. Hopefully with their next album, Melee can find that breakthrough single that truly puts them on the map.