Album Review: Nathan Meltz and the House of Tomorrow’s “Sing More Songs About Failed Utopias, Volume 2”

TROY – Released on Feb. 17th, Nathan Meltz and the House of Tomorrow’s Sing More Songs About Failed Utopias, Volume 2, is a quick-and-to-the-point EP that features music addressing exactly what you’d expect, but in an upbeat manner. Catchy, tongue-in-cheek, and at times wildly peculiar, this makes for an album that is bound to get a chuckle (or two!) out of listeners, all while providing a nice bedrock of lush, indie-pop-rock instrumentation.

Opening the album is “Fordlandia!” Brisk, indie-rock-style acoustic guitar and drums start the album off with a jaunty introduction. Soon, keyboards join in, followed by vocals. As the vocals sit in the mix, the arrangement of the instrumentation accents the melody quite well, accenting the different phrases in the verses. What really helps glue the song together, aside from the relentless drum beat, is the ostinato-like keyboard part. During the latter half of the song, we are greeted with a nice drum break; then, the song gives way to a final chorus before coming to an end.

An eighth note snare fill kicks the next song, “Pullman, IL,” into gear before the rest of the band, including vocals, enter. There are a lot of catchy melodic fills being played on the bass in this track. By utilizing “sha la la la” for the chorus, along with an overabundance of gang vocals, the refrain’s melody gets driven into listeners’ ears very quickly. A brazen electric guitar that is not only overdriven but highly reverberated comes in near the end of the track. While it’s a nice part, in this listener’s opinion, it’s a bit too high in the mix, detracting from what is going on in the song.

“Source Family,” track three, begins with just an acoustic guitar and double-tracked vocals. After the chorus, the song breaks to full-band instrumentation. I really enjoy the tongue-in-cheek lyrics on this number; it includes a line about his sister dating David Crosby! It’s a song dripping in faux happiness and is pulled off really well, almost making fun of that genre while paying homage to it as well.

Perhaps the busiest song on the record, in “The Farm,” track four, everything kicks off at once during the introduction, instrument-wise. I really like the stabs the instruments play throughout the verses. A common feature of this record – this song being no exception – the different vocal parts are hard-panned to different sides of the mix. Doing so makes the piece seem really full. Ending by repeating the chorus seemingly ad infinitum, the song’s conclusion mirrors the overall free-flowing vibe of the track itself. It’s a nice fade-out.

Like “Pullman, iL,” the bass on “Emma Goldman (I Love You),” track five really shines. The male and female vocal parts work great together on this song. It’s endearing, upbeat, and fun to listen to! My favorite track on the short EP is highly reminiscent of the upbeat indie-pop numbers from artists such as Ben Folds.

Closing the album out is “Song for Piggy.” An extremely dissonant vocal makes the song take on a very different musical flavor than the rest of the record. A peculiar closer, to say the very least, it may be summed up best, at least for this author, as acid-rock-pop; the peculiarity of the Beatles’ song “#9 Revolution” mixed with the angst seen in some alternative rock circles of the 1990s. In all candor, I don’t think I quite understand what the artist was going for by having this close the record out.

Fans of nostalgic melodies, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and musical sensibilities ranging from pop acts of the 1960s, such as The Monkees, all the way to alternative-rock sounds of the 1990s will find something to enjoy on this record. Go check it out for yourself today by clicking here.

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