Melissa Auf Der Maur - Out Of Our Minds
Elves vs Orcs, Zombies vs Unicorns and of course Fridge Magnets vs Dishwashers. These epic struggles have woven their story through time, through works of fiction and tales passed through generations. Now adding to this history of conflict is bass player for hire Melissa Auf Der Maur, with her second solo album Out Of Our Minds which depicts the age-old battle between Witches and Vikings. Coming as part of a multimedia project consisting of a film and comic, MADM pushes the concept of concept album out through as many avenues as possible.
Whilst there are some of you (most likely the boys) that may have expectations that this subject matter would bring out 3 Inches Of Blood-esque metal with plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth featuring lyrics about sticking broomsticks through helmets aplenty, this only reinforces the core principles upon which this album is based. Here Vikings are the men (ruled by their head) and witches are the women (ruled by their heart). Yet the Vikings need a little bit of witch in them and vice versa to keep the world of Out Of Our Minds spinning. Whilst the setting may be purely fantasy it is apparent that the muse for Melissa is very much the negative direction of our own world caused by too much emphasis on the mind and not enough on the heart.
So doom or black metal this is not. Things are far friendlier, one of the highlights is 'The Key' which during the chorus is reminiscent of Lily Allen (in the best possible way). Instrumental track 'Lead Horse' allows the band to stretch their legs and drive forward in an almost post-rock fashion. The core album is 55 minutes long (excluding the two bonus tracks) and whilst at times it can seem quite sprawling and unfocused it makes up for this in unfettered ambition - like every successful concept album before it. Musically it's strong and structurally it's well thought out with sufficient tempo to ensure an eventful and engaging journey for the listener. The album shines when played end-to-end; plucking individual tracks on random play removes context and subsequently removes quality - you wouldn't watch a movie in random order for the same reason.
So whilst the collective project has been a labour of love for Melissa it manages to not only satisfy her own creative needs but also produce a solid concept album. In a genre where "straight to bargain bin" is a very real risk she delivers the goods.