A-Z: Melys

I’m hoping some Melys listening will help distract me from the pain my reproductive system seems intent on inflicting me with today. Eugh.

Melys – Rumours And Curses (album sampler)
4 track promo for Melys’ first album. It’s a slightly random choice of songs and they’re not in the same order as they are on the album. First it’s ‘Misunderstand Me’, but without the intro, then you get ‘Lemming’, ‘Hope You Cry Yourself To Sleep’ and ‘Fade Away (For The Last Time)’. I’m desperately trying to remember where I got this CD from now. I thought it was one that Jade had brought back for me from the Reading festival, but I’m not sure if she’d even have heard of Melys, never mind have known that I like them :-/ Unless… Joop, was it the year you were there? Did you prompt Jade’s purchase?! Or was it even from you?! I really can’t remember. Tis cool though – it’s one of only 2 Melys promos I have as they’re not something I tend to come across very often.

Melys – Rumours And Curses (album)
Melys’ first album, though the 2nd one of theirs that I bought. It became my instant favourite of theirs at the time though and it probably still is actually. For those of you unfamiliar with Melys, how can I describe them? ‘Catatonia’ often get mentioned by journalists, but only in a really lazy way as they’re both Welsh and have a female lead-singer! Personally I wouldn’t say they sound like Catatonia, though Catatonia fans might quite well like them. Andrea’s voice is really angelic and works so well as a contrast to the lyrical content which is generally quite cynical and twisted! Musically there’s quite a strong electronic/synthesizer element, though with guitars and stuff too. They’re one of my favourite bands and if you’re not familiar with them then I’d really recommend checking them out 🙂
‘Achilles Heel’ – for some reason I always forget this is the first track on this album. I always think it’s ‘Diwifr’ for some reason. I obviously haven’t listened to the album as an album for a while. I’d forgotten how great this song is actually – it works really well as the opening track. It’s spiky but sparkly! Ha ha, that makes sense in my head. I was also about to say it’s quite a punchy opening track, which it is, though I hadn’t realised it’s actually just over 4 minutes long. No way!! Melys do have a skill for making songs seem shorter than they actually are, which is quite impressive. Too many bands have more of a skill for making songs seem longer than they are!!

‘Diwifr’ – Ah a bi-lingual song! Verses in Welsh and an English chorus.

‘Acid Queen’ – Surely one of the most bitter songs ever!! Love it. It kicks off with the lyrics “I want to kill him, gouge out his eyes, write my name across his face with stanley knives”. Ouch!

‘Painfully Thin’ – Ah, I love this album! It’s got so many great songs on it! You can tell just from the titles. It’s funny because you’d guess from the songs that they’re written by someone who’s just gone through a really bad breakup, but they’re actually written by a married couple – Paul and Andrea. I’m not sure if they were actually married during this album or whether it was slightly later, but they were definitely a couple anyway.

‘Hatchepsut’ – Yes a song about the female Egyptian pharoah! When I actually went to Egypt a few years ago and we went to Hatchepsut’s temple I kept smiling to myself as just kept thinking of this song! Hee 😀 “Skin of gold trapped in your cage of sand. A chosen life. You played the queen on every stage. Built monuments to die”.

‘Lemming’ – Brilliant song. One of the singles taken from this album. As a total Cymru-phile I’ve always been easily amused and pleased by the line “Believe what you read in the Western Mail”. About a psycho ex-girlfriend you can’t get rid of. “You didn’t know what you’d let yourself in for, did you?”

‘When You Put Leonard Cohen On’ – ah, my favourite Melys song!! I love the simplicity of it. It’s really moving yet still has that hint of humour with the “and I know there is something wrong cos you put Leonard Cohen on”. I just love it.

‘Ambulance Chaser’ – Oh my god I haven’t listened to this version in years!! I’d forgotten how different it is actually as I’ve got the single version on my playlist. Ha ha it sounds really odd! I should add it to my playlist really so I get used to hearing it again. I’m so used to the single version that I’m finding it really bizarre, though it must have been the first version I ever heard of it. Great song, though I think I do prefer the single version. Although I do really like the spoken bridge on this one – it’s more creepy and atmospheric.

‘Misunderstand Me’ – Another favourite on the album. It blew me away the first time I listened to it. It’s really moving and the vocal’s great.

Melys – Kamikaze (album)
The first Melys album I bought. I’d been wanting to buy either Rumours & Curses or the Slagging Off Tourists EP for a while as I’d been listening to the song ‘Puppet’ quite a bit, which I had on the Fierce Panda compilation ‘Dial M For Merthyr’. Plus I’d read really good reviews of Melys in Welsh Bands Weekly. I never seemed to have the money though. Anyway, one time I was down in Hemel during some University holidays and I actually had some money to spend! I don’t know whether it had been my birthday or what but I went into Hemel with the aim of buying a CD or 2 in Virgin. I had a list of a few that I fancied, including Rumours & Curses, though Hemel’s not exactly a big place and Melys aren’t exactly that well known, so I wasn’t exactly hopeful!! I nearly died of shock when I looked under M and there was a Melys CD! Specifically this one, which I hadn’t seen before as it had only just been released (ah May 2000 apparently, so maybe Easter money?). Marvellous. Naturally I bought it. I remember listening to it for the first time in the conservatory at my Mum’s when everyone else was out. And…I was actually quite disappointed. The first track instantly put me off for some reason. I really liked the nursery rhyme at the beginning of ‘Protect And Survive’, but the actual melody of the song I thought was too similar to ‘Puppet’, the only song of theirs I was previously familiar with. This led me to make a somewhat snap judgement that their songs were too samey and not diverse enough. I listened to the rest of the album and didn’t really change my opinion. It’s not as diverse an album as Rumours & Curses I don’t think, but listening to it now I wouldn’t say it was too samey. Anyway, that was my judgement at the time and I put it away and didn’t listen to it again for a few months. Infact I don’t even know why I did start listening to it again, but at some point I did and it started to grow on me. Infact I started to like it a lot! I then finally bought Rumours & Curses and instantly loved that! It’s funny that they could easily have become a band I just dismissed, when they’ve actually ended up becoming one of my favourite bands. But yeah I wouldn’t personally recommend this album as your first introduction to the band, but it’s still a great album.
‘Porn Myself’ – Gotta love a song with that title.
‘Then There Was One’ – Such a moving song about a relationship breakup. In some ways this album isn’t *quite* as overtly bitter as Rumours & Curses, but it’s probably more melancholy.
‘Dirty Whore’ – Gotta love a song with this title too!

Melys – Casting Pearls (album)
At the time it felt like there was a really big gap between Kamikaze and Casting Pearls, though it was only actually 2 years I see. This is a brilliant album! Very instantly likeable too. A bit more upbeat and pop-rocky than the previous albums.
‘Plasticine’ – Great opener. How many Melys songs contain the word ‘whore’ by the way? *lol* Probably not as many as it seems actually. Though this one’s gotta get props for the tirade of abuse that is “cock-sucking, narrow-minded, selfish, media whore!” Nice. 😉

‘So Good’ – The only single taken from this album. I almost didn’t believe it was Melys when I first heard it. It’s so…well… happy! The lyrics even make reference to the fact it’s not their usual style of song – “Baby my head’s gone a little Paul McCartney. There’s pretty love songs in there. Hey what’s wrong with that?”

‘Dirty’ – This song however is much more typical of Melys 😉 He he. “Don’t you think of walking out on me, you don’t stand a chance. Do as you’re told, don’t disappoint me, I’ll have to kick your ass! Don’t try to beat me or try to break free, I know that I’m the only thing that you’re ever gonna need in this dirty world. And that’s a dirty girl”.

‘Beautiful Life’ – This song’s different yet again. It’s another one that doesn’t seem as long as it is though. It’s just the same lyrics over and over, with the music building up: “Every day is precious. It’s a beautiful life. We all need a little excitement before we die. Every new day’s a bonus. You gotta hope it lasts. So hold on to all the good times before they pass”. It’s actually really inspiring and uplifting – rare for a Melys song 😉

‘Take Me Out’ – Definitely one of my favourite Melys songs. It’s really summery and catchy and the lyrics make me smile, particularly with the local references. Well, local to me now anyway 😉 “Take a train to Barry Island. Drive to Penarth Pier. Let’s walk the streets of Cardiff. Have sex in cheap hotels with you”.

‘My Downer Pill’ – This album’s really varied style-wise, which is great 🙂 This song’s just brilliant!! It’s probably the darkest song on this album. Love it. Andrea’s sweet singing and Paul’s talking/shouting just work so well together.

‘Don’t Let The Sun See Me Cry’ – Brilliant final track. 😀 Plus it’s followed by a secret track which is an alternative version of the b-side ‘We Had Our Chances’. I’m not sure which is my favourite version actually, probably the original b-side but only just, they’re both great and really moving. In the same kinda vein as ‘Misunderstand Me’.

Melys – Life’s Too Short (album)
Wow, onto Life’s Too Short already! The most recent (though hopefully not the last?!) Melys album. Released in 2005, so 3 years after Casting Pearls. I finally got to see them live soon after this album was released too, which was great! I kept not being able to make their gigs, so when I saw they were playing Liverpool, which I’d been to a few times before for Space gigs, I figured what the hell, I’d go to Liverpool to see them! Well worth it. They played the Cavern Club and the gig was brilliant, though it’s a shame there weren’t more people there to see it really. Especially as I went on my own, which is ok if you’re in a packed venue, but when it’s a bit sparse you feel much more self-conscious! I still enjoyed it though and am v v pleased I went as I don’t think they’ve toured since then and have no idea if/when they will again! I know Andrea and Paul have been busy with their bistro (which I think has even become bistros (plural!) now), plus they always seemed to be having children! Hee hee. It would be sad if they’re not making music anymore though. I know more recently Rich (the bassist) has been in the band The Peakz, though I noticed a little while ago that there was a note on their MySpace saying that Rich was retiring from making music altogether, which was sad. Although the last time I looked there was a note saying The Peakz were reforming, so who knows? I should e-mail my mate Dylan if I can find his address – he knows Andrea and Paul. Infact he once told me he’d been talking to them about me, which was a bit creepy and random as I’ve never actually met them! I fear I may have some kind of infamy amongst Welsh bands or something… who knows? Anyway, I should actually play this album right? That would be a good plan…
‘Thought You Would Never Go’ – Great opener. I love the little bits that Bella (one of Paul and Andrea’s daughters) sings. It is Bella right? Yeah. And it’s Chloe that says “that’s all folks” at the end of ‘(It’s All Been) Said And Done’ 😀

‘You Wannit Deep’ – Brilliant song, with the Smoke-On-The-Water-esque guitar riff! 😀 This is probably Melys’ most ‘polished’ album actually. I just mean that as a statement of fact rather than as either an insult or compliment. It’s a brilliant album, but so is the more raw debut. They’re just quite different. If I had to put them in a personal order of preference I think it would go Rumours & Curses, Casting Pearls, Life’s Too Short and then Kamikaze. I’d be interested in what other Melys fans think though.

‘Difywyd’ – quite reminiscent of ‘Diwifr’ actually in that it’s bi-lingual and near the beginning of the album. Plus the titles have a lot of the same letters in them! *lol* ‘Difywyd’ meaning lifeless/spiritless, though I’m not actually sure what ‘diwifr’ translates as as the online dictionary I use tells me it’s not a word! 😛 Interestingly this album actually has the highest concentration of Welsh songs on it – 3 infact.

‘Eyeliner’ – Love this song! The only single taken from the album. I’m just realising that the album version’s very slightly different from the single version though. Not much, but I’m noticing it now as I’ve listened to the single version so many times! The fact it was released at a time when I was all about pretty boys in eyeliner didn’t exactly hurt!

‘Casino El Camino’ – This album’s interesting as there are a few songs I like but am not overly fussed about, but then there are also some brilliant ones, like this 😀

‘Stori Elen’ – *giggles* I think of this as the ‘Go Fetch It Song’. Has anyone played the game Go Fetch It? Aside from the people who came to my 25th birthday of course! 😉 We had it when I was younger and then I bought it again on Ebay a few years ago. It’s a game that you play along with a cassette and have to pretend to be dogs and go hide bones about the house. “What the hell has that got to do with this song?!” I hear you cry. Well, on the cassette there were all sorts of silly sound effects that were supposed to emulate dogs and cats and stuff, plus some really cheery music, and there’s a particular tune and sound in ‘Stori Elen’ that really sounds like that!! It’s probably just as well I don’t understand Welsh and don’t know what Andrea’s actually singing about as I just think of pretending to be a dog when I listen to this song! Hee hee hee.

‘(It’s All Been) Said And Done’ – Onto the last track already. There is a secret track too though, which is Chinese Whispers, slightly randomly. I know it never made it onto an album, despite being a single and topping John Peel’s Festive Fifty that year, but that was back in 2001 so why it appears as a secret track 4 years later I’m not really sure… oh hang on, it must be as a dedication to John Peel. I was thinking he didn’t die until soon after this album was released, but there’s a message to him inside the booklet so it must have actually been before it was released. Ok that makes more sense now! Aw, John Peel was great 🙂

Melys – Fragile EP
I love the artwork for Melys singles and albums – having the titles written on random bodyparts 😀 This first EP has ‘fragile’ written on Andrea’s pregnant belly and an ultrasound on the back of who I’m assuming is Bella. This EP was released on Ankst and has 4 great songs on it, including ‘Puppet’ which was the song that got me into Melys, as already mentioned.

Melys – Cuckoo (single promo)
The only other Melys promo I have. Hee hee Winamp just tried to tell me it’s Catatonia – Road Rage. Hmm… no it’s not! I can’t remember where I got it from now – maybe Ebay, maybe a record fair – doesn’t really matter but I do like to remember these things. Great song anyway 🙂 I first heard a bit of it on the Ankstmusik documentary on S4C. I already liked Melys by that point but hadn’t started collecting all the old singles, so didn’t have early songs like this. I thought it sounded amazing though, which it is. Released on Ankst again, obviously.

Melys – Cuckoo EP
I think this was one of the last Melys singles I got. I think I already had ‘Cuckoo’ from somewhere though, plus had managed to download ‘Fried’ from somewhere, but I’d never heard ‘Ni Ddisgynna’r Aderyn’ before and just loved it!

Melys – Diwifr (single)
The first single on Arctic Records, which they were signed to for their first album basically.
‘In Love With Danielle Steel’ – I feel like I’ve already said this for quite a few songs, but this is another of my favourite Melys songs!! “She’s got a picture of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt pinned to the ceiling above her bed. Wishing she was held like that in a gold embrace. Not like the local boys – fumbling cheap displays”.
‘Paper, Stone, Scissors’ – When I first heard Catatonia were releasing an album called ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’ I kept wanting to call it ‘Paper, Stone, Scissors’ as had been listening to this song quite a bit! It’s now reversed though and I have to think twice about this song title, whereas the Catatonia album title rolls off the tongue. We always called the game ‘rock, paper, scissors’ when I was growing up though – which doesn’t match either title! 😛

Melys – Lemming (single)
‘When The Sun Went Out’ – Yep it’s yet another favourite Melys song of mine! They’ve had some great b-sides. I remember that Anna (my flatmate at uni) really loved this song too. It’s a really sad and moving song. “When you packed your things and left me, swore you still loved me, but you don’t, you lied”.
‘Hedfan’ – I’m not sure that this is actually on my playlist! I haven’t heard it for years, I’m sure. This A-Z thing’s really good for noticing things like that 🙂 Wow, yeah, definitely haven’t heard this for a loooooong time. Big big shame as it’s great!! I shall definitely rectify that little problem. Wow, yeah, loving it – it’s almost like discovering a new Melys song!

Melys – Ambulance Chaser (single)
Ah, the song with a million versions (well 4 at least)! The ‘Meatwagon Mix’ is on this single too. Plus there’s also the version called ‘Chasing Again’ which should pop up later – I think it’s on ‘Slagging Off Tourists’.
‘Your ‘Fuck Me’ Eyes’ – Great title! Great song too of course.

Melys – Baby Tornado (single)
The first CD released on Melys’ own label – Sylem. Yes that is indeed ‘Melys’ spelt backwards! Though I didn’t actually notice that until I was wearing my Melys t-shirt and looked in the mirror! *lol* ‘Melys’ actually translates as ‘sweet’ in Welsh by the way – I just realised I hadn’t mentioned that. I don’t think ‘sylem’ translates as anything though.

Melys – Slagging Off Tourists EP
I remember coveting this EP in HMV on Oxford Street one time before I’d bought any Melys CDs. I was very very tempted to buy it but couldn’t quite bring myself to part with £4.99 (or something similar) for a 4-track EP by a band I wasn’t that familiar with. I bought it some time later though, obviously. Tis a great EP!
‘Disco Pig’ – Great song. My favourite version’s definitely a live one they did as part of a Peel Session one time though. I’ve got it on cassette somewhere and it’s fab!! I’m trying to remember if they did it when I saw them live – I’m sure they did as I vaguely remember being really excited by that. I wonder if I can find my blog of the gig and check…aw damn, it’s not in my favourites, I’ll have to try and remember when it was…ok, have found it and now added it to favourites. It’s not a public post though as I combined it with a whole load of rambling! Disco Pig was indeed played though – infact it was the encore! 😀 I said the following at the time: “I was also quite surprised by the amount of backing vocals that Rich does. For some reason I’d always assumed they were all Paul, but quite a large proportion are Rich. Cool. His pinnacle being the encore, Disco Pig! I was so so pleased they played that as I remember hearing it live on one of the many Peel sessions they did and being blown away by how great it was live. Perfect encore song!! Plus Rich gets to whack a beer keg with a hammer!! How can you not love that?!! :-D” Hee hee hee. I’d forgotten again that Rich was backing vocal man – I still always imagine it’s Paul for some reason.
‘Mae’n Amser i Newid’ – possibly my favourite of Melys’ Welsh tracks actually.
‘Chasing Again’ – A 12 minute version of Ambulance Chaser! It never seems 12 minutes long though. I really like it.

Melys – Un Darllenwr Lwcus (single)
Looooove this song!! The whole feel of it and the mix of English and Welsh and the self-referential lyrics and just…love it! Can you tell I’m getting hungry and losing the ability to write more intelligently here? I’ll stick some food in I think…
But yeah, this song was released between albums and didn’t make it onto one. It makes it a bit more of a hidden treasure though I guess. The vinyl singles particularly as they were covered in fake fur by the band themselves! 😀 I’ve got one of each colour – the white and black one being the rarer and also being signed by the band as I ordered it through Andy’s Records in Aberystwyth 🙂
Both the b-sides on here are great too. Particularly ‘Beautiful Breakdown’ which is actually my Dad’s favourite Melys song.

Ok, I think this entry’s long enough for today!!! I was tempted to try and get through all my Melys CDs in one sitting but think I’ll string it out a little longer. Maybe I’ll do some more tomorrow, though I do have plans to work on a music video idea I have tomorrow, so I’ll see how things go 🙂 I really must get some food now…

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