sat 23/10/2021

Albums of the Year 2020: Melt Yourself Down - 100% Yes | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2020: Melt Yourself Down - 100% Yes

Albums of the Year 2020: Melt Yourself Down - 100% Yes

The music that kept spirits raised during the year of you-know-what

All a bit of a blur

I’ll leave it to others, better placed, to unpack 2020’s gruelling impact on so many. But one of its side effects was the elevation, alongside food and television, of recorded music. It became a salve, a focus, a locus of social media blather about what was getting us through. Lockdown ears were lifted by a heady gumbo of new discoveries and old favourites. Certainly, my best-of-year lists are overfull.

There’s nothing I'm taking a punt on; it’s all lived stuff, revelled in.

100% Yes, the third album from London jazz-punk-funk unit Melt Yourself Down, from its title onwards, musters an intoxicating dynamism, balancing Afro-funkin’ zip, catchy songwriting, sparring lyrics, and post-punk thrust. It’s a vital, danceable impressionist response to the idiocy of Brexit Britain but also, as it turns out, a righteous antidote to quarantine’s brain-blanding repetitiveness. When my partner and I did a series of social media DJ events during April’s total lockdown, tunes from 100% Yes rocked every time, as we danced around our disco-lit front room in capes, swigging Tuaca. It then went on to become essential listening.

The necessary full-on buzz could also be found with Blackburn heavy rockers Sky Valley Mistress and their debut Faithless Rituals (on the impeccable New Heavy Sounds label), and in the wild, eclectic femme-pop ride of Dancing Gold, the second studio album from Californian Afro-punk collective Wargirl.

But variety is the key to musical life, thus welcome albums in other flavours include the pristine, Twin Peaks-ish synth-pop comeback of Nordic cult star Annie, the rampaging mic skills of female Brit MC Truemendous, the summery Balearica of Zapatilla, the pure pop frolicking of Dua Lipa, and the poetics of Emmy the Great. Not to forget the broad array of kicks available on Leeds label Come Play With Me’s compilation Come Stay With Me.

However, perhaps the most pin-sharp response to COVID’s year came via YouTube from Brummie MC Lady Leshurr. Funny, intelligent, witty and visually smart, her videos may, in years to come, be the music media that best encapsulates 2020. They contain occasional glimpses of bleakness but she pushes these aside. We all must. Onwards, instead, to a 2021 of hope and roaring good times. We are all ready for that.

Two More Essential Albums from 2020

Sky Valley Mistress – Faithless Rituals

Annie – Dark Hearts

Musical Experiences of the Year

Slipknot, Birmingham Arena, Friday 24th January – looking back on this night after a year of no live music it seems like an magnificent Bourbon-laced fever dream and, right at this very second, possibly the best gig ever!

FREEDOM Lockdown Specials – self-aggrandising, I know, but doing these online broadcasts based around my Worthing club night was gigantic fun, and an exhilarating antidote to lockdown tedium.

Track of the Year

The Weeknd – Blinding Lights

Below: Watch the Lady Leshurr's "Quarantine Speech" from April 2020

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