Clocking in at just over thirty minutes Tamara Schlesinger AKA MALKA’s debut album Marching to Another Beat feels longer. I don’t mean this that each song is drawn out and the listening process is arduous, far from it, each of the ten tracks that make up this accomplished debut is chocked full to the rafters of clever ideas and inventiveness.
Opening track Into the Night opens with a range of percussive instruments backing up Schlesinger’s lucid vocals. As the beats take on strange and lurid rhythms Schlesinger keeps it all grounded with soaring vocal flourishes. Ultimately this is the idea Burundi Beat, but taken to its logical conclusion. Wrap It Up is slower and broodier than the opener, and with the layering of Schlesinger’s vocals it takes on a dreamlike quality. Eyes on the Prize’s backing beat sounds like an explosion being sampled cut up to fit in with a pop sensibility. Burn On the Fire takes the tribal theme that Schlesinger established earlier in the album, but mixing contemporary dance elements to create something special. Basslines throb next to sugary sweet vocals and acoustic percussion. The album closed with Wrong Side of This Town showing that Schlesinger can write slower numbers too. From samples to the rhythmic patterns that stimulate trains this track is an audio panorama of life on the other side of the tracks.
Sounding like M.IA. writing for Lily Allen while being produced by Dave Okumu (of The Invisible’s fame), MALKA’s debut album twists and turns through the safe territory of pop, but with driving percussion and timings that can only come from a folk/jazz background. MALKA is definitely marching to another beat, and if this is the future of pop we are in safe hands!