Formed in 2012 by Mercury nominated sax innovator Pete Wareham and fronted by vocalist Kush Gaya, Melt Yourself Down rose from the ashes of Pete’s previous outfit Acoustic Ladyland and from everything he learned with Polar Bear. His work in reinventing and defying musical genres has paved the way for acts such as Comet is Coming, Black Flower and Sons of Kemet, to name a handful. This new music is the band’s most vital yet. Working with production legends Youth and Ben Hillier, the band have reimagined themselves and created a bruising re-up of their signature sound with added synths, anthems and epic joyrides for their upcoming new album, 100% YES.
The hard hitting track 'Every Single Day' explores the toxicity of social media platforms; “I’m a series of clicks and likes”, says Kush. The weaponisation of data is currently at the forefront of much debate and concern and Melt Yourself Down’s direct approach is blunt yet incredibly absorbing and inspiring.
The album’s searing opener ‘Boot and Spleen’ is inspired by the dark history of British colonialism in India. “The conversation that we're having in this song is: What is it to be British?” says Kush. “What's that identity now, in 2019? What sort of behaviours are allowed towards minorities, or from minorities towards the majority?”
There’s no simple answer to those questions but Melt Yourself Down are asking them anyway. They play into a great tradition of British insurgents that spans decades and genres, from the Sex Pistols to Radiohead, from Kate Tempest to Young Fathers. Yet the band’s lineage is also connected to jazz’s rich history of sticking a middle finger to The Man. “Jazz was the wild, dirty music of the 20s, 30s,” says Kush. “It was not a sit down, polite, experience.” Pete adds: “my favourite kind of jazz is when it feels dangerous”
The album as a whole presents an unflinching focus on the pressing realities of life in Britain today. ‘Born in the Manor’ takes on the Grenfell tragedy amidst looming synths and staccato brass, as Kush’s vocals morph from menacing speak-raps to a desperate wail. Lyrics indict the powers that be whose negligence allowed the West London fire to happen: "Born in the manor / Born in the gutter / For dem it don’t matter / Blacker, whiter, browner / You burn in a tower.”
The record closes with the album’s title song '100% YES'. Brimming with optimism as the title suggests, the track highlights the band’s unparalleled skill and craftsmanship as musicians. “So much has changed in the world since we started writing in 2016” says Pete. “We couldn’t ignore any of it and this new music is borne from our feelings of extreme cultural restlessness”.