Adwaith : Melyn12.10.18 : Libertino
This stunning debut album is like the challenge of a complex algebra problem you can't solve - the singles released in the run up to it, however good, don't seem to quite add up to the post-punk delight of the whole thing.
In part this is because the singles themselves have been subtly reimagined for the LP. They are more intense, muscular and compelling than when first recorded; but Adwaith as a band are now testing the boundaries of their own creativity with increasing aggression whenever they can, and that adventurous spirit is heard in every note of Melyn.
The drums and bass that form the propulsive core of Adwaith's live sound have also been brilliantly captured and heightened. Producer Steffan Pringle, whose name is found in the credits of much of the most exciting music to come out of Wales in the last few years, has done an exemplary job in helping the band to express themselves fully on record.
Melyn has fifteen songs and instrumental fragments - the latter including the opening, minute long, drum heavy Intro that leads into one of the re-envisioned singles, Lipstick Coch - a bass-driven, nonchalant pop celebration of youth, androgyny and love. Following it is the first completely new song, O Dan y Haenau, a slow sweeping masterpiece of hard-beaten drum and synth. By that far in you are lost in Adwaith's engrossing musical world. It is a place of sketchy then squalling guitar, angry, pulsating rhythms and pop-clear vocals, with almost every word sung emphatically in the band's native Welsh.
There are many standouts - of the previous singles Fel i Fod chimes out as clear and hopeful as it has from radios across Wales over a long summer (it is already one of the most streamed Welsh language songs of all time); Newid is as urgent and fractious as ever, and Adwaith's first release, the flickering post-folk song Pwysau, is still a radiant announcement of difference. There is also a mesmeric, riffed joy in Y Diweddaraf, but as one song segues into the next it is the effect of being irresistibly drawn into the album's pervasive soundscape that matters most.
Melyn has drawn comparisons with The Cure, early Public Image Ltd and Siouxsie and the Banshees - a list that requires the taut, irascible energy of Elastica to make it more complete. But the real characteristic this unique album shares with the greats of the past is that from the first moment you listen the excitement and the exhilaration of the music insistently forges a connection you can't shake off.
Melyn is an essential album of fearless, soulful and dark art pop.
ADWAITH I Gartref