Review Summary: The sound of modern, multicultural London; uncut on one of the year's most thrilling debuts.
Plenty of artists have received their big break on Later... with Jools Holland
, but few over the past two decades have come near to making the impression Melt Yourself Down did upon their appearance last month. They may never touch the sales figures of Adele, Seasick Steve or Jessie J, whose careers all experienced liftoff following stints on the BBC's flagship music programme, but it's fair to say this collective's performance transcended all of them, particularly within the context of a largely disappointing series. Perhaps more than anything, it evoked At The Drive-In's infamous farce back in 2000, albeit minus the carnage and with a significant hike in musical value. Sound-wise they bear little resemblance, but the sight of vocalist Kushal Gava tearing around the stage amid a backing of unhinged sonic chaos was more or less in the same mould, and quickly made a name of what until then had been one of the nation's great up-and-coming secrets.
While it's easy to dispel comparisons such as that above, it is genuinely difficult to propose one which accurately portrays the niche they've established. Indeed, the pool of influences the six-piece draw from is so eclectic you'd hardly believe they're based in London; the English band name and song titles virtually all which betrays an affinity to the UK capital. Instead, the roots of this debut lie predominantly in Northern Africa, the region's vigorous percussive bounce expertly blended with a healthy dose of electronic glitches and jazzy shower of brass and sax - all whilst channeling an intensity which wouldn't sound out of place on a punk rock record. The crossovers don't end there. Beats and basslines meld together with the type of masculine punch usually associated with hip hop, while countless addictive grooves are bound to have even the most reserved listeners in a manic, uncontrollable state of ecstacy.
Of all this record's qualities, however, probably the most startling is the way in which it somehow manages to entwine these elements into a perfectly natural sounding whole. Whether its the unadulterated bedlam of 'We Are Enough,' the propulsive rhythms of 'Release!' or the Middle Eastern vibes of 'Mouth To Mouth,' each and every crammed second is bustling not only with energy, but also a clear sense of purpose and cohesion, and it's this clarity which has even the most bizarre ideas sprouting golden results. The fact Gava sings in French and that their influences may be alien to some listeners is irrelevant; Melt Yourself Down
is a record whose appeal goes far beyond your typecast world music enthusiast, one which stretches free of national boundaries and provides a perfect component to the modern multicultural world we inhabit. You probably won't understand it, or for that matter have heard much like it, but you'd be a fool to miss out on one of 2013's most thrilling debuts.