You are either going to love or hate Elise Mélinand’s very high-pitched, quite childlike vocals. Let’s put that out there first. I don’t mind them, but I can see where it could be off-putting for some. Good thing, then, that Mélinand surrounds said vocals with rich melodies and potent glitch rhythms to make Gray Hoodie an excellent listen. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t skip past some of the more vocal-heavy tracks here (i.e., “La Pluie [La Plus Belle]”) before the sound grates on me, but there are also places, like “Sur L’Ocean,” where they work very well. On that latter track, Mélinand’s voice comes through with an attractive vulnerability. It helps that she opens with equally small, almost toy-piano-like tones picking out a slow melody. There’s a drop, and then the piece morphs into a smoother New Age kind of vibe, the piano escalating in grace and edged with raspy strings. And it continues to evolve, beautifully, to showcase Mélinand’s classically influenced playing. “Prélude En Louise” has another effective use of the voice, burying it beneath a rising tide of sonic density to the point where it’s a just another instrument in the mix. Rapid-fire glitch and big drum sounds fill the space. I like how huge this gets, and how much energy it throws off. There’s a lot to listen to on Gray Hoodie. It’s nicely layered, and Mélinand shows an adept hand at using small sounds to their fullest effect. The ten tracks she offers up are filled with hooks and plenty of detail–enough that I can often overlook the vocals. Another solid release from n5md, and a debut that shows a lot of promise. Expect this one to get a lot of play, especially thrown into a mix.
Available from n5md.