Fans of Matthew Mehlan's early work as Skeletons have a lot to be excited about by this release, the first under the experimental multi-instrumentalist songwriter's own name. Like those early 2000s gems, this is Mehlan recording music all by himself, without a particular sense of urgency but exploding at the seams with creativity; this sonically lush work is littered with the casual yet introspective truth bombs that make his lyrics resonate so deeply.
It's been a long time since Life and the Afterbirth, and Mehlan has gained a lot of experience. As a result, he's judiciously moderated here the fascination with ugliness that he couldn't help but inject into many otherwise beautiful listening experiences. His penchant for cheeky juxtapositions is part of the idiosyncratic charm that makes those records such intriguing and timeless audio documents, but The Mehlans brings Mehlan's knack for all things gorgeous and groovy to the forefront.
That's not to say that he skimps on experimentation — the structures are bold and irregular; he squeezes oceans of unique sounds and phrasings out whatever instrument he's interacting with; and the mixes are living, breathing entities — but everything gels sublimely, and the inherently quirky restlessness of the music is rendered as vivid support for the beautiful amalgamations of psychedelic, jazz and deeply felt world folk musics Mehlan has built an inspiring career around.
Mehlan has matured as a musical communicator, and the humble confidence that comes from creating in a comfortable, relaxed recording environment (his childhood home) has seemingly inspired him to record one of the most consistently enjoyable releases in an exceptional catalogue of utterly unique songs and sounds. Whether you're a long-time fan, someone that's written Skeletons off for being too weird in the past, or have never heard a note, The Mehlans is absolutely essential listening sure to strike a particularly emotional chord with anyone intimate with existential ponderings about how childhood environments look through the lens of adulthood. (Shinkoyo)