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Melee - Devils & Angels

Melee, Devils & Angels

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ORANGE County four-piece Melee have already achieved considerable success States-side with their debut album Everyday Behaviour and now look to introduce themselves to UK listeners with sophomore effort, Devils & Angels.

The idea seems simple. Write emotive power-ballads capable of appealing to the same bracket of listeners reserved for the likes of Coldplay, Keane and The Feeling with a little of the retro sensibilities of bands like The Cars and Hall & Oates thrown in. In reality, it’s an inferior copycat that seems designed to manipulate the emotions to maximum effect.

Instrumentally, they’re certainly accomplished but the overwhelming sense of hope becomes stifling, much in the same way that The Feeling’s sophomore release did.

Lead single Built To Last kind of sets the standard, opening with some swirling keyboard loops before Chris Cron delivers the impossibly upbeat vocal: “I’ve looked for love in stranger places but never found someone like you; someone whose smile makes me feel like I’ve been holding back and now there’s nothing I can do.” The hopeless romantics will doubtless swoon; the realists may reach for the sick bucket.

Rhythm of Rain does at least hint at a bolder direction, opting for rawer guitar riffs over the preferred pianos, and it would make a fairly decent single for the future (complete with a melodious chorus), but Frequently Baby (She’s A Teenage Maniac) opens with one “whoo-hoo” too many and is way to cute to support its supposedly spiky lyrics. It’s a pop-lite alternative to Teenage Dirtbag that’s actually quite charmless.

For A Lifetime, meanwhile, is so evocative of Keane that Tom Chaplin should probably sue. The remainder of the album is similarly uninspired.

Melee would be much better off sticking to the guitar-led songs, rather than the piano-based symphonies as Devils & Angels certainly improves whenever it embraces a rockier vibe. Drive Away and Biggest Mistake are two of the more bearable listens (the latter, in particular, assuming a Ben Folds kind of vibe), but efforts like She’s Gonna Find Me Here (an overly manipulative heart-strings tugger) and Love Carries On truly made my heart sink.

The overall feeling, therefore, is that Melee should remain in Orange County, soak in some more of California’s rays, and stop gushing and sentimentalising before returning with a third album. You can, it seems, have too much hopefulness and soaring piano melodies.

Download picks: Rhythm of Rain, Biggest Mistake

Track listing:

  1. Built To Last
  2. Rhythm Of Rain
  3. Frequently Baby (She’s A Teenage Maniac)
  4. For A Lifetime
  5. Drive Away
  6. Can’t Hold On
  7. Imitation
  8. Love Carries On
  9. She’s Gonna Find Me Here
  10. Biggest Mistake
  11. You Got
  12. Stand Up
  13. You Make My Dreams