Just Mel, a rock band formed at Boston’s Berklee School of Music, recently released their second record, “Eight Seconds on the Raging Crab.” Its three hustling tracks don’t take the time to knock the dirt off their shoes before busting in; neither do they bother to close the door when they leave you suspended in their manic energy. Just Mel’s sound is wild and aggressive, but matches the poise and precision of more experienced rock acts.
The opener, “Rubber Band”, envelops the audience in Just Mel’s aural geometry. It introduces their characteristic play between lead vocalist Ian Silver’s effortless lyricism and the band’s tense, technical quality, which is partially derived from subtle shifts in time signatures. This dynamic is contradictory at first glance, but achieves intuitive gesture — “Eight Seconds on the Raging Crab” becomes poetry thanks to it.
In “Plastic Wife,” the band bluffs a softer sound before it catapults and cannonballs. Silver places himself somewhere behind or above the exploding hooks — he coos, a dreamer in the first minutes of waking, too sedated or embittered to care about the world burning hurriedly around him. During a lull, he goes in, “I do not know/ what’s the price of it all/ is it worth the fall/ if we cannot walk away?” trailing off into a whisper — pause — before a prodigious breakdown answers him, pipe organ cutting across.
“Five Four” is similar: the organ is traded in for piano and the music devolves, practically thrashing before it reaches a precipice. Vocals and instruments fall into a harmony not yet seen in the record; the drums and strings loop into themselves. Silver’s voice refracts as if underwater, repeating the run-on sentence: “breaks over no time breathers take too long.” He shifts emphasis and meter, coiling this one sentence into many, capturing the cycle of progress and repose that fills our lives, finally blurring the line between the two, perhaps questioning the logic of the cycle itself.
Just Mel is making music for our era. They are watching the madness and responding: “Eight Seconds on the Raging Crab” asks the listener to forge time for music, to gift ourselves space where we can make it the sole object of our attention and maybe return to the world with a little more clarity. Personally, in a follow up, I wouldn’t mind if they made themselves at home before departing so quickly.