The Melody Unit
Choose Your Own Adventure
Hidden Agenda / Parasol
I wrote The Melody Unit’s bio for All Music Guide about two years back, and to be quite honest, I was worried about the group’s staying power. Making a case for the ephemeral is never fun. Now my delight comes not only from knowing that this Seattle-based sextet has released its second full-length, Choose Your Own Adventure, but also having the opportunity to hear these nine delicious tunes as well.
“Suite for Caesar,” a dreamily optimistic, almost utopian vision of renaissance, opens the record. Jessica Folsom’s breathy vocals commingle with those of songwriter-frontman Kevin Kelly; then they are delicately integrated into the supernatural pop framework that The Melody Unit crafts so well. Rather than layering male and female vocals atop one another like, for example, the New York indie folk band Ida, a subtle dialogue exists between Folsom and Kelly. It makes for a tight balance, the yin and yang perhaps, that causes these sprawling tunes to seem so snug.
And sprawling they are. Clocking in around two minutes, the stereophonic headtrip of “Nine” is the only anomaly among these five-minute-plus tracks, most of which stretch without becoming bulky and cumbersome. Instead they retain the sort of buoyancy that standard three-minute radio fare can barely match. Two tracks that previously appeared on a self-released seven-inch, “Kona Song” and “Snoqualmie,” thankfully reappear here, along with recent material such as the slightly rockabilly “Welcome Back Tomorrow” and “Go (Or Not Go),” with its driving guitar line. But to point out highlights suggests that the other tracks are lacking — which certainly isn’t the case.
For fans of drifting, candy-sweet, indie pop, this is a five-star album. And when I survey from the vantage offered by the year’s fast-approaching end, I would even go so far as to say Choose Your Own Adventure is surely one of the best of 2001.