French psych-pop virtuoso, Melody Prochet of Melody’s Echo Chamber, has finally returned with her long anticipated second album, “Bon Voyage.” Her sophomore album has been released six years post her revered self-titled debut, four years since the release of this album’s first single “Shirim,” and one year passed its original date for release.
The arrival of “Bon Voyage” signals a wondrous relief for fans and a miraculous victory for Prochet, who suffered from an unspecified accident in 2017 that resulted in broken vertebrae in her neck and a brain aneurysm. Prochet has since made a full recovery and shared with Pitchfork in April that “it’s been traumatic, but it has beautifully put some perspective into my eyes and broke a life pattern that didn’t work for me.”
Crafted without the hand of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Prochet’s former producer and boyfriend, “Bon Voyage” sails into new territory abandoning the parameters of genre and structure and instead favoring attempts at a varied collage of textures, sounds, and influences.
The album’s lounge rock opener, “Cross My Heart,” bounces through multiple phases featuring a sweeping string section, whisper soft vocals, and shuffling dance breaks adorned with the wavering flutes. Prochet jumps from English to French, first describing the ache of distanced romance, “And all the oceans keeping us apart/And the seasons passing by/And I’m still sad,” only to reveal a fantastical (albeit unrelated) scene, “Je danse avec des loups/Des biches et des elves/Dans la forêt/Paisible et enchantée” (“I dance with wolves, deer and elfs/In the forest/Peaceful and enchanted”). With its twinkling sophisti-pop keyboards and swap between French and English lyrics, “Cross My Heart” respectfully masquerades as a kaleidoscopic reimagining of the sound hallmarked by indie lounge pop legends, Stereolab. The track sets the stage for the fractured yet enthusiastic nature of the mere six songs that follow in the album’s swift 33 minute duration.
The prog-rock influenced “Breathe In, Breathe Out” follows with a stop-start melody punctuated with a sing-song whistled hook, a jarring scream, and driving fuzzed out guitars. The track is laced with cutting lyrics that provide possible insight into the trauma that Prochet has faced in the past year: “Mama said you must be strong/Healing slow, feeling so low/I can’t eat, I can’t grow/I can’t heal my soul”. Standing at just under three minutes, in contrast with its much lengthier contemporaries (with the exception of the generously cutesy Swedish interlude, “Var Har Du Vart”), “Breathe In, Breathe Out” may have benefited from occupying more of the run time that is instead monopolized by the remaining tracks.
“Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige” is a seven minute neo-psychedelic whirlwind accentuated with Melody Prochet’s whispering coos, beautiful acoustic embellishments, and spaced-out beat lines. Its hefty length and erratic composition fall similarly to that of album collaborator Nicholas Allbrook’s releases with his band, Pond, who have made a name of releasing extortionate, psychedelic freak outs. The track mostly pulls off its ambitious sonic mission, faltering only when Allbrook appears at the 3:08 mark to charmingly detail memories of loud fornication and posthumous excretion. Super trippy, dude!
“Bon Voyage” closes with the funk number “Shirim” (originally released as a single in 2014) that saves the record from closing with a psyched-out whimper and instead with a blissed out groove. “Shirim” is catchy enough, though it lacks major distinction from other trendy funk-pop, H&M friendly, tracks from artists such as Tame Impala or Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Upon her debut release, Prochet was hailed as a successor to the breathy, mysterious, and whimsical space carved out by the dream pop group, Broadcast and their brilliant front woman that was Trish Keenan. With “Bon Voyage,” Melody Prochet steps out from that shadow and claims space in a new territory overflowing with sugary sweet rides through psych-pop wonder. It’s a tremendous joy to have Prochet be able to return to music and push the boundaries that her 2014 debut defined. If “Bon Voyage” alludes to anything, it’s that we’re in for a treat if she continues to collaborate with fresh names and extend her aesthetic ambitions.
“Bon Voyage” is a triumph for its commitment to pasting together a patchwork quilt of styles and ideas. It teases you with fleeting ideas of songs (re: the final 15 seconds of “Breathe In, Breathe Out”) before roaring down the slope of its track, leaving you with a drop in your stomach yet itching for that next whiplash inducing turn.
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