“‘So Much to Say’ is a retro tune with Beatles-style harmonies […] reminiscent of a vintage, jangly indie pop”
– Indie88“A whimsical concoction of tender harmonies and full-bodied melodies”
The Mellons just announced their forthcoming album, Introducing… The Mellons!, due April 27, 2022 via Earth Libraries. The song was recorded at No. 9 Studios in Salt Lake City, Utah and was mixed by Scott Wiley of June Audio, in Provo, Utah.
On the single, Rob Jepson (vocals, guitar, keys) said:
“‘So Much to Say’ is a collection of feelings from childhood on up. Like everyone, I always long for deeper connections and richer relationships. ‘So Much to Say,’ is about how hard it is to do that, even when you’re giving it everything you’ve got.
Especially following the pandemic, I want it to remind people to be open to each other. This song is my way of saying, “I’m a person. You’re a person. Life is short and I want to be close to you.”
On the track’s accompanying music video, Rob described how they produced and directed it themselves: “We created the video by the seat of our pants! Andrew is an outstanding visual artist and he took the creative reigns. I ran logistics and prayed that we didn’t go over budget! It was a thrilling (and daunting!) challenge to put the song into a visual context.”
Depending on who you ask, the story of Andrew Beck and Rob Jepson’s meeting was either a thunderous epic or a heartwarming tale. Jepson remembers the two meeting in high school in Provo, Utah, Beck providing a jolt of creative electricity to boost him out of the sad songs he’d write on his new guitar. Beck remembers a mountaintop and eyes of flame, the duo speaking in tongues alongside rushing waters. “Either way, we continue to have that creative soul connection,” Jepson laughs. One listen to the debut album from the band resulting from that meeting, The Mellons, and it’s clear that the duo are capable of capturing both halves of that mystic equation.
Due April 27, 2022, via Earth Libraries, Introducing… The Mellons! finds that balance somewhere in pages of the Beach Boys book of psych pop. Jepson and Beck unlocked the expansive potential of their songwriting when they found their match in another pair of collaborators. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Dennis Fuller and percussionist Ian Francis had worked together in a handful of bands, and Jepson and Beck enlisted them to join The Mellons and round out their sound. “All of these pieces of songs that Rob and I had swirling around in our heads started to magically come together,” Beck says.
Though the resultant tracks are jampacked with everything from clarinets and violins to sleigh bells and trumpets, the layers never overpower the intimate harmonies and honeyed lyrical emotionality at the songs’ core. “I wanna get closer/ I wanna go deeper/ I wanna know it all,” they sigh on opener “So Much to Say,” surrounded by twirling guitar riffs and glimmering bells.
The Mellons play a symphony’s worth of instruments, and self-producing the record largely at Fuller’s No. 9 Studios in Salt Lake City allowed them to chase that stratified sweetness to its heartfelt extreme. “Writing, arranging, and composing everything ourselves gives us the freedom to really get the exact sound we’re all interested in,” Fuller says. Always focused on the power of a taut hook, The Mellons made sure that freedom was used for a purpose. “We stay true to the musical stylings of the mid- to late-’60s while still creating room for the vogue,” Francis says. “It’s all about finding that balance.”
Even though the band members have worked together for years, they still dig for the surprises that come out of pinging ideas around the studio. The stomping waltz of “What a Time to Be Alive” revels in that bounding energy, though this time drawing its strength from streamlined muscle. The rhythm section of Fuller and Francis lock into an elephantine stomp, gamboling through a field of falsetto. “Just for a moment/ Lost in a moment/ Caught in a dream,” they sing, eventually drifting cloudily into a Beatles-y outro of swaggering horn, loping percussion, and muffled laughter.
The nostalgic vibe to the psychedelia doesn’t end at the music, as the quartet opt for paisley or matching turtlenecks as well as vintage collage. A trained illustrator and designer, Beck funnels visual influences into The Mellons’ vibe just as quickly as music. “Immersing myself in the whole aesthetic is part of the joy,” he says. “Things like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Monkees, and H.R. Pufnstuf are all swimming around in my mind.”
From the ELO quickchange of “Hello, Sun” to the wordless melodies and mouth trumpet solo of “Marmalade,” there’s a whimsy to the grandeur, a childlike glee in the midst of very mature technical proficiency. The Mellons are having a ton of fun, and deadly serious in their pursuit of the next laugh. “I’ve got a magic spell I’m going to cast on you,” they sing on “Magic Spell,” the effect already having taken place.
As Introducing… The Mellons! nears its conclusion on the bubbling “Surprise,” the quartet achieve an indelible sense of balance between childlike wonder and the mature technical skill to achieve it. That same duality carries through the lyrics, as well. “The album is full of yearning for youth and the dream of feeling safe and comfortable,” Jepson says. “We talked a lot about time, loneliness and longing, belonging and acceptance.”
After writing and recording most of these tracks centered on longing for connection through the pandemic, The Mellons are relishing the opportunity to get these songs out on stage, to recreate their baroque and many-layered performance in front of audiences. “There’s a lot going on with our set,” Beck says. “Multiple trumpet solos, some random tambourines, someone reading a book on stage.” But whether in studio or onstage, the Mellons have figured out a way to not only make that complexity happen, but to make it feel effortless and engaging, a giant game of make believe with a soft center.