Born from the ashes of a previous project, ORCHIDS is the brainchild of guitarist Michael Smyth. By inviting six different vocalists from Northern Ireland to showcase their talents – Melyssa Shannon (Wynona Bleach), Daisy Johnson, Rebecca Dow (Virgins), Sianna (Tramp), Clodagh May and Frances Ellen (Effie) – Michael set out to gain a female and non-binary interpretation and to breathe new life into nine promising tracks that had previously been recorded by himself, bassist Emma Rose and drummer Matthew Milner.
The first track ‘Memoria’ (feat Melyssa Shannon) cleverly evokes a ‘90s Pop-Grunge feel – think Veruca Salt/ Lush – whilst its lyrics tell a sad story of lying and cheating with sped-up choruses that reach over a sweet bass line. ‘Revolutions’ (feat Daisy Johnson) starts stronger with its stopping-at-nothing statement. The vocals here are layered in places and the track has a fuzzy Punk-Pop edge with cleanly sung melodies in the verses and a chorus that invokes a sort of seventies groove on repeat. There’s a minute or so of instrumental halfway through the track which leaves the bass and guitar some beautiful breathing space. The third track ‘Hourglass’ (feat Rebecca Dow) begins with a drum beat and has melody provided by the instruments whilst the lyrics deliver an expressive and sorrowful yet clear and crisp plea but it’s in the fourth track ‘Run’ that Rebecca Dow demonstrates the power of voice, high pitched tones play a huge role in setting the mood as does the drumming, this song has a bold body to it and the Ethereal vocals build and melt to fill your head with a sense of foreboding. You wouldn’t dare mess! This song is well placed to gear you up for the next two tracks which provide a solid core of attitude to the album; ‘Mannequin’ (feat Sianna) returns the energy to a ‘90s Alt-Rock flavour, it’s an impactful, intense song with Sianna commanding attention and respect with an emotionally charged lyric delivery proving it entirely possible to admonish someone via music. The theme stays in the same vein for ‘Do Better’ (feat Clodagh May) the vocals may feel a little more tranquil in this song but the drama builds and the message is quite literally “listen to the female voice.” If you need something to sink into after that then ‘Sins’ (feat Frances Ellen) will catch you with its soothing but sorrowful calm clear vocals and instrumentals that pick up just the right amount of speed. The eighth track ‘Smile’ sees a return from Melyssa Shannon, this time with vocals a little lower on the register and a hint of aggression which rounds the album back to a faster Pop-Punk feel before the final track ‘And Ghosts’ welcomes Rebecca Dow back with an almost peel-like ring to the music and soft strong vocals that rip up and down the scales.
The result: This combination of well-practised musicians and multiple vocalists has produced around thirty-six minutes of well-expressed Alt-Rock music that is perfect for deep thinking and which will help tap into different parts of the human psyche for some serious reflection. ORCHIDS ‘ORCHIDS’ is out 31/01/24.