Review Summary: It enters the realms of classic rock with tremendous hooks and admirable diversity.
Following an excellent debut is never easy. With their first self-released disc Strut
, Mellow Bravo upped the ante for themselves by presenting a distinct take on classic rock finding the middle ground between engrossing songwriting and vivid arrangements. This style perfectly translated into lively concerts which earned them a reputation for being one of the most entertaining underground rock acts in the US. As a result, the Bostonian sextet didn't have to wait long to release their sophomore LP under the wings of formidable Small Stone Records. On their slickly produced, eponymous album, Mellow Bravo expand their musical horizons merging their trademark infectiousness with the whole gamut of various rock influences.
Great diversity and refusal to stick to a fixed genre make Mellow Bravo
impossible to pin down. “Sad Sam” opens the disc with thumping blues rock highlighted by superbly harmonized harmonica play and impassioned vocals. Keith Price's gruff voice shares the same register with Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman, yet he proves to be even more versatile especially when paired with keyboardist Jess Collins who delivers soulful, high-pitched singing. Their vocal interplay on numerous tracks is the asset that can't be underestimated. Inspired by both post-punk and reggae, “Where The Bodies Lay” relies on a startling contrast between their voices making for a truly enchanting tune, while driving heavy metal of “Ridin'” makes Collins shine with her assured leading vocal performance.
It's astounding how expertly Mellow Bravo perform in their every incarnation. Even when they venture into a potentially risky folk territory on such songs as “Prairie Dog” and “Big Block,” they remain stellar by means of quality song craft and a tangible sense of Americana these songs encompass. However, the band seems to embrace their hard rock tendencies to the best effect. “Lioness” is a highlight that embeds notable pop and funk aesthetics into the group's sound without sacrificing the meatiness of southern rock. Out of several ballads, bluesy “When I'm In Pain” stands out with its 1950’s doowop references which serve as an ideal backdrop for a heartfelt verse being followed by a booming chorus.
Brimful of infectious hooks and emotive vocals, Mellow Bravo
is absolutely devoid of subtlety. The album hits hard though and thus delivers its fair share of addictive tunes that somehow steer clear of cheesiness while covering a multitude of subgenres. The band needs to be applauded for making rock music that's solidly composed, supremely accessible and deeply ingrained in American tradition. All these qualities merit multiple listens, especially in the summertime.