Melys return with their best album yet.
Sylem: 3 March 2003
Last updated: 24 September 2009
While loved by their many fans and admirers, great commercial success has so far mostly eluded Betws-y-Coed's Melys. Each year that comes round promises to be their breakthrough year, but it's never quite materialised.
- When It All Comes Down
- Baby Burn
- Achub Fi
- So Good
- Beautiful Life
- Take Me Out
- My Downer Pill
- Don't Let The Sun See Me Cry
Why this might be is something of a mystery. When the band came atop John Peel's Festive Fifty in 2001 with the Chinese Whispers single, it looked like they were finally about to go on to the next level.
But since then, aside from a few live appearances, they've been mostly quiet: instead of capitalising on their success, they retreated back to their Sylem studios to work on a follow up with producer Gorwel Owen.
The result is their third album, Casting Pearls. More ballsy than its predecessors, it's the sound of a mature band coming into their own. Last year's single So Good set the standard: a great tune coupled with production that took in Beatlesque psychedelia, Darling Buds melodies and jangle guitars.
And kicking off with dark murmurings about "cock sucking narrow minded selfish media whores" in the opener Plasticine, Casting Pearls sees Melys refusing to conform to expectations - they're going to work on their own terms, or not at all. And that's only to be expected from a band that records in their own North Wales studio, and releases their music on their own Sylem label.
The pressures of not being signed to a major mean they've been free to call their own tune, and it's paying dividends. On Casting Pearls' highlights, like the pop-perfect Baby Burn, the time spent polishing their pop fineries has been well spent indeed.
One oddity about Melys has always been the lyrics, with their tales of torment, heartbreak and bitter breakups often sounding unconvincing. Casting Pearls turns things around with the centrepiece song Beautiful Life, which is a joyous celebration of existence: "Every day is precious; it's a beautiful life. We all need a little excitement before we die. Every new day's a moment, you're gonna hope it lasts. So hold on to all the good times before they pass."
With a beautiful a capella ending, the song is quite possibly Melys' finest moment to date. They follow it with the yearning Take Me Out, with its longing for taking "a train to Barry Island, drive to Penarth pier. Let's walk the streets of Cardiff, have sex in cheap hotels". And let's face it, we've all been there at one time or another.
Will 2003 be Melys' year? It could well be. But then, they'll probably be just as happy living on the periphery. By a long stretch, Casting Pearls is their best album, though whether the disco pigs will fall under its spell will remain to be seen. As Melys move a step closer to becoming national treasures, hear this album and adore it.
Words: Joe Goodden