Album Review: Malka – Marching To Another Beat2 min read
As both a solo artist and as frontwoman of London-based band 6 Day Riot, British songstress Tamara Schlesinger has achieved various amounts of critical and chart success. Abandoning the acoustic, guitar-based sound of her former band, but retaining its carnival-like uproar and exuberance, Schlesinger returns as MALKA. Marching To Another Beat, debut album under Schlesinger’s most recent moniker, continues to push her musical frontiers, offering electro-driven alt pop that revels in spirited rhythms, colourful invention and honest introspection.
The hushed verses of opener Into The Night, sung over layers of peculiar percussion, gives in to a soaring chorus, musically liberating the listener from a cacophony of night terrors and insomnia. This relationship between vivid and vigorous percussion, and the gentler tendencies of Schlesinger’s vocals is emblematic of much of the rest of the LP, particularly palpable in the infectious dream-like Wrap It Up.
Let It Go’s verse is suspiciously reminiscent of The Bangles’ 1980s pop rock classic Walk Like An Egyptian, while new single I Never Needed Love is a catchy cocktail of addictive claps, carefree chanting and heavy layering. There are broodier offerings too in the expansive electronic soundscapes of I’ve Got Nothing and My Body (Takin’ Over), whose fragile vocals and harmonic layering are particularly effective as the tracks ebb and flow with momentum and apprehension. Halting the uproarious layered percussion characteristic of the majority of Marching To Another Beat delivers a blissful break from Schlesinger’s relentless energy.
MALKA has given Schlesinger the opportunity to explore her own unique ideas without outside distractions, impressively playing all instruments herself in this distinctive offering. There are, however, a few instances of discomfort in tracks like Burn On The Fire and Wrong Side of This Town that haven’t arisen from her unwavering originality, rather they mostly revolve around problematic intonation, which could very well be intentional creative choices.
Regardless of a few minor criticisms, MALKA’s debut certainly marches to its own beat, traversing the farthest reaches of today’s pop music. With some nuanced adjustments, Schlesinger’s latest musical manifestation will see her thriving career endure.