Moody Beach sounds an awful lot like moody bitch. It’s also a brilliant name for a band, and while I can’t vouch for the accuracy of said name, I can confirm that it is the moniker for the musical output of Sydney-based artist, Melissah Marie.
Despite its shortcomings, the self-titled debut EP from Moody Beach is one of the most instantly gratifying short form releases to come out of Sydney this year.
Moody Beach started as a solo bedroom project and has since developed into a fully-fledged band situation. That said, the debut EP (also titled Moody Beach) contains artefacts that suggest the project’s solo origins. Melbourne-based solo artist Olympia is an obvious reference point, whose 2016 album Self Talk provided a real watershed moment for fantastic Aussie dream pop.
The four songs that make the EP are centred around consistent drum grooves, simple driving bass lines and needling fuzzy guitar parts that do a great job breaking things up. The press release characterises the them as psychedelic, but in truth they feel a bit too neat and tight to fit that description.
This is psych-pop with a definite emphasis on the pop, although I feel the need to stress that this isn’t to the detriment of the EP.
The psych influence is more prevalent in the vocals, which over the course of the EP are treated with a variety of lush effects that emphasise Marie’s wry, alluring performance. She’s a charming presence throughout this group of songs, selling her sardonic observations on life and love with a winning combination of aplomb and curtness.
In some ways it is a performance that recalls Ruth Radlet (Chromatics) whose hazy, drugged-up delivery serves to undercut the emotionality of her lyrical content. However, Marie’s writing lacks the dramatic nuance that makes the best Chromatics songs so engrossing. It’s not so much the subject matter itself, but rather the way that these themes are explored.
Lyrics like, “I don’t want to think you’re a good guy / Even if it’s all just a dream / I already know you’re not the person / Not even the one that you (think?)” feel like place holders more than anything else. Though Marie’s ability to sell them as convincingly as she does is further proof of her skill as a performer.
On Moody Beach, I can’t help but feel that Marie has put herself in a position of disadvantage. The prospect of her working with more evocative and complex lyrical material, as I am sure she will on subsequent releases, is exciting and would likely elevate her music to another level.
However, this criticism should not distract from what is one of the most instantly gratifying short form releases to come out of Sydney this year. Vanilla and I Should Exercise both have the kind of electric current running through them that could kick start a dying Sydney venue back into life.
Hawaii demonstrates a more intimate style that is as lush and beautiful as it is brief. It is a part of the Moody Beach sound that I would love to hear more of.
I have heard rumblings that the live set they put on is fantastic, and promises to be longer than the four songs on display here. I am pretty sure that will be my next port of call. Considering the strength of this EP it should probably be yours too.
Check out Moody Beach on Spotify, it’s out now via Personal Best Records.