Swahili Blonde’s And Only the Melody Was Real is the kind of music that motivates people to go on internet message boards and whine about how music hasn’t been good since the 90s while decrying modern music as derivative garbage (which is not an idea that I mean to support). While not utterly devoid of virtues, And Only the Melody Was Real is pockmarked with failings, and shoves them down the listener’s ear canals with reckless abandon. The songs are poorly written, the production is various degrees of rough, and ultimately, the album is a dull mess.
And Only the Melody is Real stumbles right off the starting line with its first track, “Alivinya” (for anyone wondering, I believe it’s pronounced like “Alive in ya”). The song begins with drums, vocals, bass, and a woody, partially-tonal instrument that I honestly can’t identify. Due to weak mixing, every instrument sounds like it’s clamoring for the listener’s attention, an issue that’s exacerbated when more instruments join in. And it doesn’t help that the vocals, and many of the synths that come in as the song progresses have sharp, piercing tones that blend about as well as a block of granite blends into a smoothie. The nicest comment I can make is that I found snippets of the lyrics somewhat charming. “I closed my eyes, and all I see is blue around me/ I closed my eyes, and I’m alive in you.” I have no idea what it means, but it sounds pretty neat.
However, lyrical niftiness counteracts the album’s vices with all the effectiveness of a terrier attacking an aircraft carrier. Much like the opening track, every song is suffused with poor mixing and dull composition. The third track, “Her Name is Hope,” stood out to me as one of the most egregiously boring tracks. Do you want to listen to a constantly repeated drumbeat and synth riff for nearly four minutes? Well, Swahili Blonde believes you do. And Only the Melody Was Real doesn’t sound like a labor of love, it sounds like a musician trying to knock out an album before their lunch break. To be frank, I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone. I didn’t enjoy it, and I have a hard time imagining that the average listener would disagree.
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