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On July 15, Underwater Peoples will release the self-titled debut album by west coast group Melted Toys. Culminating three years after their acclaimed Washed & Dried EP first unveiled the group’s distinct blend of hazy, plaintive pop and psychedelic electronica, Melted Toys reigns in squarely as the group’s most definitive vision yet. Melted Toys comes on as a sort of sanctuary-in-transit, inspired both by the shifting visions of dreams and global travel, so that each of the twelve passages flicker and flame with equal impression. Pre-order the album here.

According to the band’s biography, original members Daniel Rosado and Steven Harkins bonded over a shared joint while ditching P.E. class at their San Francisco high school. Subsequently caught and suspended, they bonded over music, and soon crossed paths with soon-to-be bassist from a high school nearby. This was third member Brian Wakefield, who rounded out the trio, (two guitarists, bassist and drum machine), as heard on the fantastic and spartan Washed & Dried EP (Underwater Peoples, 2009).

All over Melted Toys the casualness of this kind of musical unity laces the languid pop with an unpretentious melodic language. It’s both downcast and serene, resembling the catalog of mid-career FELT, where Maurice Deebank’s somber leads colored each and every detail, rather than just issuing showy statements at predictable intervals. Highlights along the album spark from timely synthesizer voicings as well, mixed in fantastic contrast against the shadowy mid tones of Wakefield’s bass and Ole Haarstad’s metronomic, motorik drumming style.

The three-year wait for this debut irked followers and friend’s close to the band, but it was caused by one of the members leaving a laptop containing all the initial work on a San Francisco BART train. So it goes, and Melted Toys seems to have used the guffaw to their advantage, as the band re-located to Los Angeles, and singer guitarist Steven Harkins ended up traveling to Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei, where he ended up writing an additional half of the material.

In Tapei specifically, the sounds and visions of surrounding villages inspired Harkins and his partner Isabelle to take in as much as possible, everyday setting out by foot, taxi or metro, walkman in hand, to discover and explore the region. These wanderings were soundtracked by Shinsei Kamattechan, Pootee’s Yen Kids Mix, Chris Rainbow and lots of J-pop artists, Harkins says, and it helped imbue the travel time with a sense of musical voyage, too. Returning back to Isabelle’s parents flat, Harkins would then write songs on an old acoustic guitar that her father had used during his teenage stint playing in Taiwanese bands in the 70s. Most of the gold from Melted Toys was mined on this very instrument.

These journeys thus framed a more patient, laid-back approach to tracking, which in today’s frenetic, all-or-nothing music market is certainly unusual, but of course worked in Melted Toys’ advantage. The songwriting process evident throughout Melted Toys is just as much about that space in between song creation, i.e. the life lived outside of music making – the waiting, the strangeness of dreams, and the redundancy of daily life underpinning the desire to escape. This is the color outside the lines of the album’s twelve tracks, and the source of the album’s emotive intensity.

Mixed by Rusty Santos (who was at the controls for Animal Collective Sung Tongs, and several excellent recent Warp Records releases), Melted Toys will be available digitally and physically on July 15.

Current Release (Click album art for high res)


Artist: Melted Toys
Album: Melted Toys
Label: Underwater Peoples
Street Date: July 15, 2014

Track List: 

1. Intro
2. Bummed Out
3. Horizons
4. Press A (Habitat)
5. A Postcard
6. Blush
7. Always
8. Water Arches
9. Joy Fit
10. Observations
11. Come On
12. Citrus Honeymoon

Pics (click for high res)


Photos by Blob Oliver


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