The uniquely oppressive and impressive debut from the Dublin quintet is our pick of the week's best releases
Post punk is all about long shadows. For the longest time now, any new act that even flirts with the genre is ranked on their similarity to Joy Division. More recently, it’s been nigh on impossible to describe any new Irish rock band (of which there are many) without saying whether or not they sound like Fontaines D.C.
Dublin’s MELTS don’t have much of either of those two bands in their DNA – although there are a couple of degrees of separation from Joy Division in opener ‘Maelstrom’, which sounds like Interpol at their most caffeinated. Instead, they tend towards a more dramatic, grandiose type of darkness, one that pulsates both enticingly and threateningly. It’s like walking past a club that’s absolutely jumping, but there’s a chance that guy hanging around the door might stab you on your way back out.
If you’re going to compare MELTS to anyone, the better fit is My Morning Jacket around Circuital, albeit with a hefty dose of space adrenaline. There’s also a tuneful prog tendency that somehow recalls both Canadian heroes Wintersleep at their heaviest and Iron Maiden if they were really into Loveless. Across its eight propulsive songs, the Dubliners’ debut Maelstrom sounds like it’s either blasting off or burning up on re-entry. Either way, the cockpit is rattling and everyone inside is getting a good shaking.
Most of Dublin’s current rock crop are often lumped together as post punk, but really the unifying theme is Daniel Fox. Silverbacks, Sprints, MELTS, Paddy Hanna and Naked Lung don’t sound terribly similar, but all share the involvement of the Gilla Band bassist behind the desk, cementing both the notion of his excellent taste and his band’s status as godfathers of the ever-expanding scene. His work here pushes Melts beyond the normal boundaries of psych and prog, adding a crushing momentum that only ever lets up for the occasional intake of air before we’re off and running again.
Prog, psych, post-rock, post punk, there’s a wealth of sub genres that could try to pigeonhole MELTS, but none feel entirely right. Even combined with all the bands above, it all falls short of the visceral experience that Maelstrom conjures. If the skies start burning, this will be the sound of it all coming down around us. It’s a truly inspired debut that only increases the anticipation for where this singularly unique band might go next.