Japonize Elephants: Mélodie Fantastique

Mélodie Fantastique, the 20-track release from the San Francisco-based collective features highly elaborate cinematics. The longest piece, which is also the title-track, feels like a chase scene, which escalates into a confrontation. The folk meets gypsy rock band keeps the release interesting by incorporating various tones into the disc such as horns, dramatic vocals, and strings. An eccentric number, “The Publisher’s Clearing House Special” swoops in and tells an odd story full with fast-paced vocals and jig-worthy instrumentals. With an almost waltz like effect, “An Evening With A. Thumbtack” warms the disc up with playful keys. One of the only problems with Mélodie Fantastique is that the longer songs, despite only being about four minutes apiece, seem to last longer, making it easy to lose interest in the band’s eclectic sound if it isn’t your thing.

Despite being easily distracted during some of the numbers, there are others like “Swimming Upstairs” that demands attention. The hot, swinging cut adds a vintage smoking lounge feel to the lengthy disc. A sizzling, jazzy brass section makes this cut stand on its own compared to its folky family. The album starts coming to a close with a track called “The New Birthday Song,” which is exactly what it sounds like—a new take on “Happy Birthday.” The a cappella number sounds like it’s performed in a small club setting and eventually erupts into a sing-along type ordeal. Mélodie Fantastique ends with “Hi, I’m Mitch Marcus,” a brief, dreamy instrumental piece.

Japonize Elephants have a very diverse sound, but it might be too diverse for some. Give Mélodie Fantastique a few listens and decide whether or not the gypsy rock band is for you.

In A Word: Diverse