The trio’s penchant for the sprawling epic is as clear as day in their debut full-length release.
Three or four advance singles in, I already knew the then-forthcoming debut record by The Mellow Dees won’t just be another walk in the park.
Truth be told, you’d be right to be wary of the alchemy between Melody, Wolf, and Nievera, at least at first. It’s just – what’s the word – incongruent, their union. Their individual CVs don’t point to any of this making sense, let alone working.
But somehow it does, and how. The biggest mystery is how their singular edges aren’t dulled by compromise, and how their diagrammatic overlap isn’t a compendium of dilutions of previous strengths. In essence, Walls Might Melt is a living testament to true synthesis: an earnest union rather than a messy mish-mash.
The early portents were promising. With the release of lead single “Lamán,” it was clear that the band manifested key traits of the Filipino diaspora, chief of which is a longing to be bearers of totems from the homeland: its flavors, its idioms, its sounds.
By this we don’t mean that they aim to be sloganeers, but that they are celebratory when it comes to the distinctions – musical or otherwise – that we share. This includes our penchant for the sprawling epic, which the record clearly has in abundance.
In fact, Walls has a longform underlying arc. A journey through a woman’s “troubled past,” it also doubles as a journal of a therapeutic spell built on, yes, magic mushrooms, as an early release from the band reveals. And, as the listener moves from one song to the next, “there is continuity and connection, [and an unfolding of] stories [about] betrayal, anger, pain, despair, deceit, love, hope, and freedom.”
I can’t pin those themes onto specific songs in one-to-one fashion, but the numbers do ring with hallmarks of a difficult life. And by hallmarks I don’t mean just cookie crumbs from lyrics and turns of phrase, but also the musical forms the band chooses to carry each difficult tale.
As the nameless, faceless central heroine of the album-length tale “comes to terms with herself” and “accepts the lessons brought about by the past,” listeners are also treated to pop punk by way of New Wave (“Runnin’”); riff rock by way of Pat Benatar (“Amber Alert,” “Sakim”); and kundiman by way of Gothic-classical (“Lamán”).
Scouring the yet-unreleased tracks, however, adds up to a much richer tableau. With tracks like “Restless,” which sounds like an extended passage in a sprawling rock opera; the foreboding “London Calling”-style romp that is “Pendulum”; and the masterful mini-epic that is “Linlang,” we see a unit made up of big-picture creatives.
While the album title is a “[warning] about walls melting as an effect of fungi,” we see a group unafraid to wade through uncharted waters and leaf through unfamiliar next chapters – fungi and other forms of sinister shit be damned.
Spin Walls Might Melt today.