Madam West are an experimental pop quintet that merges unlikely genres together in lush and unusual ways. Think a chilled out alt-rock band that threw a Gameboy in the middle of their tunes and you’re part way there. This is because originally the band were a synth-pop duo that grew out into the rock and folk genres as more members joined and the result is something quite unique.
Opening the six-track release is the chilled “Strongest Son” with the emphasis on strong jangly electric guitars effortlessly sliding between psychedelic riffs that use a keyboard synth like a chiptune album having its own epileptic party underneath. When things are quieter it allows some of the funkiest bass outside of a jazz band to let loose and that bass player is front and centre for title track “Warm Bodies” which is a more smokey soulful track that lets both the guitar and the bass breathe. The percussion is thick and the whole vibe is everything you’d love from a darker soul track. Vocally, Madam West is an interesting mix because it’s like a raw rock singer is taking on smokey jazz and as a result, things have a rough around the edges feel which is accentuated with some of the production effects to make her voice more gritty. It really works because she can powerhouse is, but in an “I want to scream” way and it adds to the overall depth of this unique band.
“Erstwhile Manatee” pushes more towards blues rock with lush blues and 70’s soul with electric pianos, beautiful snazzy bass lines and a cheesy da-da-da-daaa lounge act pre-chorus. It’s cute and almost freeform fun. “Seams” is the bands most straightforward track on the EP and stays firmly in the minor chord neo-soul genre. It showcases the bands’ penchant for not picking the usual chord progressions you’ve heard so many times before. “L” I’m sure stands for love but it could also stand for lush because the track goes out of its way to caress you with every sound. From the fluffy guitars to the softened percussion or the airy vocal delivery – this is a musical equivalent of a soul-rock pillow. The release closes off with the epic six-minute “Wise Blood” which is a track that grows and builds into a frenzied psychedelic outro of maddening riffs and warped backward vocals as the drums roll and unfurl to a soft collision. It’s like the track is running out of steam whilst gaining momentum and it’s really cleverly done.
In a musical world where it’s easy to chuck bands into specific genres and sounds, it’s superb to hear a band that’s doing things their own way. Each track has its own identity and something unique and interesting about it and they are earworms that you go back to, even if you don’t think they immediately first time. A great new discovery for 2018 – check them out.
Recommended Track: Seams