Meljoann: HR review – Spooky techno and blissed-out electronica

Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 05:00

   
 

Album:
HR

Artist:
Meljoann

Label:
Boy Scout Audio

Genre:
Dance

Meljoann has described HR as exploring “the ways in which we collude with, prop up, and replicate capitalism in our relationships and inner lives”. This second record, after 2010’s Squick, has a tracklist that almost reads like a business manual, with playful titles such as Company Retreat and O Supervisor (surely riffing on Laurie Anderson’s O Superman). 

Firmly rooted in a 1990s RnB tradition but with some 21st-century twists, HR has an element of the collage about it. An often surprising piece of work, it brings to mind a spacey Janet Jackson on the frantic Personal Assistant, some industrial-led spooky techno tones to Business Card, and Prince-inspired pop on Consumer, which showcases Meljoann’s lovely treacly vocal.

Hoard and I Quit tend towards the more muted and meandering end of things, but it is on songs such as synth-driven Overtime where it gets interesting. An album highlight, it is perhaps where Junior Boys and SWV might collide and collude at a disco-conference: comparing notes on the relatable perils of working in an unsatisfying job, “he leans in over her and over-explains”.

Trophy Wife harnesses a dramatic power-pop soundscape; subverting and tipping over the trope of the “trophy wife”, it recalls elements of Lost Girls-era Bat for Lashes. Album closer Ventilation Shaft is more restrained, drifting off towards a kind of eerie yet blissed-out electronica.