Review Summary: the closing of a chapter; the writing of a new one
When Melody Prochet’s precocious debut fell from the heavens six years ago, there was no telling how far her star would rise. A ready-made methadone prescription for Tame Impala
withdrawals, Melody’s Echo Chamber
(2012) funnelled retro-leaning pop through a glass prism, refracting technicolour rainbows that swirled with reverent shades of Broadcast
. It was a heady and intoxicating sound, and one that propelled her ascendancy in the midst of a brief neo-psychedelia renaissance. Since those great heights, Prochet has been cruelled by setbacks: first, a scrapped album written with then-boyfriend Kevin Parker; and last year, an accident that saw her hospitalised with a brain aneurysm and a broken vertebrae. Bon Voyage
serves as a vessel for all the pain and frustration suffered by Prochet throughout its tumultuous creation—it makes for a difficult and voyeuristic listen, but one that rewards patience with moments of uncompromising beauty.
For a brief thirty-seven minutes, Bon Voyage
drips and smears with the spontaneity of a Jackson Pollock painting. These songs are immensely labyrinthian, peppered with sharp turns and dead ends—like aural collages sewn together with tape from the cutting room floor. Baroque opener ‘Cross My Heart’ swells with dramatic string arrangements before a dizzying capitulation into shambolic R’n’B; elsewhere, the rich Anatolian grooves of ‘Desert Horse’ collide head-on with Portishead trip-hop, Prochet’s voice rising from the wreckage an autotune spectre. Tracks writhe and contort in structureless free fall, corkscrewing upon themselves with reckless abandon—the aforementioned ‘Desert Horse’ feels ostensibly formless until consecutive listens reveal its many hidden patterns and motifs. Journeying through the monolithic Bon Voyage
is daunting, but getting lost in these vibrant musical tapestries is all part of the charm.
With Swedish psych-rock ambassadors Rein Fiske and Fredrik Swahn (of Dungen
and The Amazing
respectively) at the helm, Bon Voyage
positively brims with creative energy. Their influence is readily apparent on ‘Quand Les Larmes D'un Ange Font Danser La Neige’, a sprawling seven-minute odyssey replete with mesmerising drumming and that silky, viscous guitar sound only Fiske can muster—but whenever the frolicking instrumentals threaten true prog-rock ascendancy, Prochet’s breathless soprano gently wrestles them into submission. The driving vocal performance of ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’—‘keep saying write my songs/I keep crying, crying,’ she whispers—is Prochet’s only bonafide pop-star moment; she spends the remainder of Bon Voyage
veiled in space-echo and runaway reverb, ricocheting across the mix in a hazy phantasmagoria. It’s a curious thing, to witness an artist so utterly absorbed by their own outlandish creation.
Originally released in 2014, ‘Shirim’ is the lone vestige of an album that never came to fruition. It’s the weakest song on Bon Voyage
—the kind of meek neo-disco finger-snapper that would make Mark Ronson
sneer—but a thematically fitting conclusion to a record so fundamentally shaped by the calamitous circumstances of its own genesis. Like a fleeting reverie or a daydream, ‘Shirim’ invokes the bittersweet feelings of past battles won, of struggles overcome. It’s the closing of a chapter, the writing of a new one; a springboard from which Prochet propels herself fearlessly into the future.