End to End is our track-by-track take on non-album and compilation releases, in which we try to give thumbnail first impressions of each song and point to particular numbers to be cherry-picked via the consumer’s online retailer of choice. This time it’s the long awaited return of one of the shining lights of the futurepop scene after an extended absence…
Stuck in the Mirror
Out of Line
Some six years since their last full-length, German future/synth-pop outfit Melotron return with a single to promo their upcoming stint opening for Count Pohl and the Vampire Bunch. I always think of these guys as one of those “you had to be there” acts; their millenial stuff is pretty great, but unless you were around for the rise and fall of futurepop I’m not entirely sure it would resonate with you. Still, their 2007 album Propaganda showed some interesting growth into quirky electropop territory, and I’ve always had a soft spot for them on the basis of a couple of truly good songs, so I figure some new material warrants a gander. Let’s crack ‘er open and see if there’s a prize inside.
“Stuck in the Mirror”
A straight ahead dance track, and far more pounding than I was expecting, Melotron having left that style behind by the middle of the last decade. It’s almost akin to something I would expect from latter-day Covenant in terms of the rhythm, actually. Shades of Depeche Mode on the chorus, which is the only part where Andy lets that fabulous voice really cut loose; during the verse it’s largely buried in effects. It speeds by far faster than it’s four minute run time would suggest which isn’t a bad thing in practice, in and out with a fairly memorable hook. Not amazing, but pretty good.
See, this is more in line with what I currently expect from Melotron: slinky electronics and smooth vocal delivery in the mid-oughts synthpop style. I don’t think it’s as catchy as the title track, but Andy has one of those deliveries that you can enjoy regardless of what it’s put towards. I suppose that sounds a bit backhanded (“He could be singing his tax return and it’d be just as enjoyable, really”), but whatever, it’s a b-side.
“Angst Oder Wahn”
Whoa, wasn’t expecting this. The construction is akin to an early Numan track in the bass and lead synth parts, with the addition of a melodious chorus, albeit one that doesn’t really take off. Still pretty fun to listen to, and far more leftfield than the songs that precede it. It’s oddball, and I kinda like it!
“Stuck in the Mirror (Andy K remix)”
Oooh, reversal on this mix, where the vocal processing from the original is put on the chorus, and the verses are sung clean. Not a significant improvement, and the additional programming muddies up a song that was perfectly fine for club purposes without any embellishment. Pretty superfluous.
“Ohne Worte (Instrumental)”
In case you can’t tell, my feelings regarding Melotron are largely tied to how much I like listening to the vocals, so an instrumental is a bit of a tough sell. This is very nice for what it is though, a mellow slice of sophisticated electro-pop that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Nice deep production on it as well, some vague hints of Tangerine Dream surfacing through the little bouts of synth modulation.
“Folge Mir Ins Licht (feat. Lauren Francis)”
A remake of their stone classic futurepop number, done over as a hella emotional ballad. I guess Lauren Francis is a Welsh soprano of some note, although I don’t know that I could tell her apart from whoever did the female vocals on the 2003 version if I tried (A quick google search reveals that it was Julia Beyer from Tech Noir. The more you know!). It’s tastefully done and quite lovely, although I think it says something that I paused it to go listen to the original through two or three times while writing this. Something for the fans I guess, and I can forgive it for being inessential on the basis of it being so darn pretty.
The takeaway: Mixed feelings, my friends. I think the title track is a chipper little dancefloor number, and while not a patch on some of their greatest songs it’ll probably find some traction in DJ sets geared towards upbeat synthpop stuff. The rest is nothing to e-mail moms about, although I don’t think any dyed in the wool fan would be displeased. Snatch up “Stuck in the Mirror” and maybe “Angst Oder Wahn” if you’re in the mood, otherwise wait on a full-length, hopefully one won’t be too far behind.