Jackson Scott, a 20-something home recorder from Ashville, NC, slips radiant bits of pop melody into a slushy mix of static, cymbal clash and jangle. Pretty lines drift in and out of focus, subsumed in an inchoate rainbow hash of unstrung bedroom pop. You live, during this short but intriguing album, for the moments when a song rises up out of the mess and fuzz, the melody taking shape like a cloud takes shape if you look at it long enough. And then, just when you’ve got it (“It’s a frog!” “it’s an angel!” “it’s the guitar lick from the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’”), the wind shifts and the outlines dissolve. Melbourne is easy to listen to, but hard to make sense of.
Scott fits snugly into an alcove of 1960s-infused, guitar pop, sounding very much like Syd Barrett channeler Tim Presley (of White Fence), but also Ty Segall (at least in an acoustic mode) and King Tuff. He recorded Melbourne entirely unaided, layering loosely synchronized textures of guitar, bass, drums and vocals on top of his fragile tunes. He sings in unison, wavery harmony and uneasy dissonance with himself, while winding sinuous sitar-ish guitar licks around his songs.
Scott’s vocal lines are the main pop element in these songs, sung in a high codeine fuzzed murmur, a little nasal but very tuneful, like Frankie Valli with a head cold. “That Awful Sound” is almost anthemic if you listen to the top line, its melody floating free of a mesh of barely coordinated drums and guitar. You have to work at the song to hear it properly, the auditory equivalent of squinting to screen out extraneous details, but once you do it is messy, fuzzy and quite lovely. “Together Forever” is even better, slower, more stately, its guitar lines frayed with distortion, the drums heavier and more certain. It’s the one that, once you’ve heard it, you go back to the others and try to pry them open. If one is as good as this – and it is – then it’s well worth re-examining the others.
DOWNLOAD: “Together Forever” “That Awful Sound”