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Mellowdrone “Box” Review

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Los Angeles-based Mellowdrone has most definitely seen its fair share of drama leading up to the release of Box. Whether is be Venezuelan-born guitarist and lead singer Jonathan Bates’ impeding series of meetings with record executives or lead guitarist Tony DeMatteo’s near fatal car accident, the band has had to take steps to ensure that something positive would come out of a mess. With the reactionary “And Repeat,” which comes as a direct mockery of those who were hindering him, or “Limb to Limb,” which is a healing song co-written by DeMatteo, Box attests to the feelings and events that have led those in Mellowdrone to where they are now.

“Oh My” has an amazing, catchy chorus with a droopy bass line and the production knob turned up to “10.” One of the most pleasant trips on the album, “Fashionably Uninvited” takes dark lyrics which question the usefulness of life, and mask them with a beautiful melody. Bates likens the song to a David Lynch movie, “Lynch is a subversive genius because he is a master at filming something creepy in a stunning way. This song is a lot of fun because it has a nice, happy melody washing over dark lyrics.” Ultimately, though the album begins to find itself wading in slow synth-ballads like “Four Leaf Clover” and “Beautiful Day.” These tracks follow some of the high points on the album and unfortunately begin to suck some energy and flow out of their predecessors.

The melodic high and low points begin to further balance out into a slower pace as the album sinks into its later tracks. Fusing synth with down-tempo beats becomes common place and the music starts distracting from the lyrics. The moderate rock “Bone Marrow” attempts to reignite the album but the energy that was so abundant at the start wears thin as Box concludes. Bates’ comments on the work of David Lynch seem more at this point that ever. Lynch’s work was criticized as it commonly became misunderstood and misinterpreted due to the abundance of complexities and drawn out themes. While the context of the lyrics is sometimes “creepy,” as bates puts it, the slow, almost distressing tone the music is what is more noticeable. Even if the album were to be a mere mask of underlying themes Box could easily have been a motivating opportunity to express its message had it continued the energy hinted at in its high points.