EP: Sydney’s Moody Beach unleashes a brilliant, fuzzy, dreamy landscape of gritty pop in ‘Assembly of the Wild’.

The Breakdown

'Assembly of the Wild' is a brilliant and immersive creature of pure-bred pop draped in a barbed-wire mantle. Moody Beach has created something very special and very rewarding with this EP, and all is left for you to do is to enjoy.
Viscera Arts 8.9

Moody Beach‘s new EP ‘Assembly of the Wild’ is a total delight that satisfies any cravings for down and dirty rock’n’roll leavened by a dreamy and at times ambient soundscape. The EP has an outrageous sense of well earned confidence and attitude: a rampant delivery of straight forward scuzzy pop with an arched brow and curling sneer. And yet Moody Beach, the work of Adelaide born Melissah Mirage, does not seek sole refuge in this mantle: it is no monochrome set of paint by numbers tracks but something far more subtle and textured.

Produced with the assistance of Kim Moyes from The Presets, the EP is also accompanied by a comic written by Mirage. Mirage says of the combined production:

Key messages in my EP and the comic follow my personal experience as a female musician working a corporate job to fund her music career. In her office job, the musician’s outspoken and body comfortable art leads to bullying and discrimination. This story has a resonance beyond my music. Women are constantly told to ‘be their real self at work’. Often this invitation is hollow. For myself, and others, the arts have become a refuge for self-expression, but the two worlds should not be mutually exclusive.

Opening track ‘Surprise & Delight (Interlude)’ has a surprising eighties pop glow redolent of M83 with its haunting spoken monologue, syncopated beat and glistening ambience. It’s mysterious and ambient with the choral waves far in the distance. The track slowly builds up to a crescendo: mesmerising and immersive.

Second track and single, ‘The Other’ enters with a bold stroke. There is a lovely scuzzy, dirty edge that fills it was swagger and attitude – matched by Moody Beach’s performance in the accompanying video. The gloves come off in ‘The Other’, replaced by something a little more heavier and spikier. There remains, however, a vibrant pop sensibility underneath the fuzzy guitars and acid-laced intensity.

Lyrically, the attitude flows through with a declaration of independence and empowerment:

Don’t try to fit their mould
Don’t change what you know
Their pigeonholes are wrong
It’s gone on for too long

Musically and in delivery, the track has the power of Shirley Manson from Garbage and the melodic sweetness of The Jesus and Mary Chain. What an explosive combination. The video is infused with an air of decadence and excess, a sense of the dark and edgy pace:

The JAMC comparisons come to mind in ‘Why Not’ – Mirage has a sneery, dissociated delivery, cool and louche emitting the sweetest of melodies amongst the thunder of the instruments that eviscerate you with the kindest strokes. You could hook up the insistent pounding of the guitars drums and bass to a defibrillator and it would have the same dramatic effect, with the melodies providing an effective salve for the wounds.

‘Summer (Interlude)’ subverts expectations: it creates a dreamy, ambient fugue with its circular bass patterns and repeating vocal samples, jangling, sparkling guitars and distant chorus. There is almost a trip hop element with the distorted vocals and glitchy beats.

Any dreamy reverence you are drawn into is quickly dissipated by the blast of second single ‘Plastic Love’.

‘Plastic Love’ has a fuzzy wall of noise that is laced with Mirage’s cool, sneering delivery, one that would match Jim Reid’s insouciance in The Jesus and Mary Chain. And yet it is lightened by a melody that could have come from a sixties girl group – a lovely tension with its dissociated lyrics:

Oh no I think I’m coming last
Life on the inside seems detached

Maybe it’s time that I loosened up
Don’t stop giving all that plastic love
To me

‘Plastic Love’ is immensely cathartic with its dirty buzz and arched eyebrow chill. Mirage says of the track:

When writing ‘Plastic Love’ I was thinking about all the different kinds of romantic love I’ve experienced. I’m serially monogamous and have felt trapped in convenient relationships before. On the flipside, for a short time, I pursued open relationships and revelled in feeling detached from lovers. Both felt insincere and artificial to me, like plastic.

The video was shot at Glider Festival in Marrickville, Sydney by Throat Pasta. The event raised funds and awareness for mental health with proceeds going to Beyond Blue. It is an appropriately fuzzy and distorted performance piece that puts on full display the enigma of Moody Beach:

‘Deep Tie’ continues with the cathartic thump of filthy guitars and Mirage’s cold vocals being warmed by the celestial melodies. It’s an antithetical mix of sound that delivers with magnificence.

The EP ends with a warmer soul-inflected dream pop of ‘Veins’: an absolutely delicious bubbling stream of instrumentation: a prominent and ebullient bass forming the spine of a wash of synths with guitars wound back in the mix to provide a sibilant wash. Mirage’s voice is a distant presence, softer and filled with a sense of yearning and mystery.

Fittingly, ‘Assembly of the Wild’ does cram inside its perimeter fencing the most enjoyable assemblage of sonic creatures that range from ambient dream textures feeding off the soft grass to dirty, nasty, scungy rock’n’roll chasing its prey. Fabulous dream pop creatures grazing next to shoegaze beasts, all in a field of ambience. ‘Assembly of the Wild’ is a brilliant and immersive creature of pure-bred pop draped in a barbed-wire mantle. Moody Beach has created something very special and very rewarding with this EP, and all is left for you to do is to enjoy.

‘Assembly of the Wild’ is out through Viscera Arts and available to download and stream here. Arriving alongside the EP is Mirage’s debut comic, co-written by Geordie Crawford, illustrated by Jess Kitty Parker, and made possible by the Australia Council for the Arts.

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