Kim Tsuyuki
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Adam Melchor writes music for two kinds of people: those who just got their heart broken and are pouring out their feelings into the notes app, and those who want music to dance around the kitchen with the love of their life at two o’clock in the morning.

Melchor Lullaby Hotline Vol. 1 was released on March 19, and came out of a project that started in February of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. A hotline was set up in which Melchor reached out to around 10,000 fans every Sunday with a new song. He recorded 52 songs in total, and a selection of those ended up on this mixtape.

In an interview with HollywoodLife, Melchor explained that he was writing four to five times a week with other people, and even just for himself. Once the pandemic hit, the mixtape took on a different meaning. “It transformed [through the pandemic] and gave me a sense of calendar, essentially. It was like, ‘Okay, every Sunday, I have to do this. [ . . . ] It was just a good way to stay in touch and like, communicate with fans and stuff. And it was a direct line. So that’s why we called it the hotline,” said Melchor. The result? A 12-song album that features soft instrumentals (specifically the acoustic guitar) and beautiful lyricism to put you to sleep (or to cry to sleep — depends on how this album hits you). 

“Lullaby Hotline Theme” kicks off the album, and it’s extremely straightforward; it just welcomes you to the album. It then segues to a song that is slowly creeping up on my list of favorites every time I listen, “Moon in the Morning.” This is a very bittersweet song — a love that can’t quite happen because the person Melchor sings about is in a relationship with someone else. Yet, there’s still this sort of admiration in the lyrics: “I’m living on a ‘just in case.’ There’s always room for you.” He admires this person like the moon that leaves in the morning; he takes all the time he can get before the moon leaves again. Around the two-minute mark, the song quiets down before the drums kick in. There are extra backing vocals that make the post-chorus sound haunting. The song is all acoustic guitar, and yet the vocals sound like they’ve been through a voice modifier, creating a sort of dissonance, which echoes that of the feelings in the song.

The third track, “Last Time,” starts with Melchor’s signature beginning sound. He begins a lot of his songs with jumbled words; it sounds like he’s saying something in reverse. In the context of this song, it sounds like he’s reversing a memory or a time, so he can relive it (in this case, sing it) for the last time. I love songs that have sad lyrics and a temporary burst of energy right at the end. The beat and strings kick in around the two-minute mark, right as Melchor sings, “I remember the way you look at all the gates you’ve been assigned / ‘Cause every time you go I’m scared it’s gonna be the last time.” Then, the song goes back to just acoustic guitar, and Melchor ends on a melancholic note.

According to Genius, Melchor explained that this song is about leaving someone at the airport, and the feeling of watching them walk away from you. It relates to the pandemic, as I’m sure a lot of us are reliving these moments and memories, and wondering if that’s the last time everything would be considered normal.

“Begin Again,” the fourth track, is the most upbeat song on the album. It hits you right away with the “da-da-da’s” and an upbeat melody as Melchor sings about breaking a tooth on a bottle cap. It’s a metaphor for a second chance, for messing up and making mistakes, but hoping you get a chance to make things right.

Next up is my favorite song on the album, “Start Forgetting Death.” This song hit me really hard. It starts off simple, instrumentally and lyrically. He sings that he starts forgetting death when he sees someone he loves getting dressed, and he remembers why he’s living. A couple of horns kick in as Melchor sings about the ways he could possibly die. The horns subside as my favorite lyrics are sung: “Lying on my chest, you remind me what grows in it.” This song just reminds me that it’s really the little things that make life worth living. It’s the small moments — laying on top of the person you love, looking into their eyes, and realizing at that moment everything is perfect. The song ends with Melchor harmonizing with himself, and the horns are at their loudest. It sounds triumphant as he starts forgetting about death because he found a reason to live.

Now comes the unexpected song of the album, a folk cover of My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).” This song surprised me, to say the least, and wasn’t my favorite because it felt slightly out of place (it’s the only cover on the album). “Lateral Move,” which follows “i’m not okay,” was my least favorite on the album because it didn’t have much substance lyrically. “It’s a lateral move” was repeated too many times, and the song felt incomplete. 

Track eight, “Best Problem,” is in my top three for this album, and that’s because of its beautiful lyrics. The song is about missing someone you love, the best kind of problem: “And evеry bit of whirlwind’s worth the while. You’re the only one in this whole world I miss, that’s the best problem there is.” A quiet electric guitar plays, accompanied by a choir of “ahs” in the background as Melchor describes this relationship that he misses so much. He’s right; missing someone you love is the best problem there could be because, when you see them again? It’s like that quiet choir of “ahs,” like a wave that crashes over you and makes you realize that that’s your person.

When I saw “I Choose You (Wedding Edition)” on the tracklist, I had to brace myself. “I Choose You” was first released on Melchor’s EP Summer Camp in 2020. Originally, the song is more upbeat, yet, with the wedding edition, it’s slowed down exponentially. The wedding edition is dominated by the piano and definitely feels like it’s supposed to be the first dance song at a wedding. Lyrically, the song screams wedding: “I choose you. Out of billions of people, we got it down to two.” It’s a very romantic song about finding your person.

The album takes a step back with “No Way of Knowing,” which feels like a song about a rocky relationship; we’ve stepped back from the wedding theme and entered rocky waters. It’s a song of uncertainty, and this person seems to be too far for Melchor to have a face-to-face conversation with them. The following song, “itsjustmyheart (voice memo),” seems to segue almost perfectly as it’s a song about a broken heart (that broke my heart). Because the song is just a voice memo, it has a special intimate quality about it. It has a slight static in the background because it was (most likely) recorded on an iPhone; it’s just Melchor singing and playing the acoustic guitar. It adds to the pain of the lyrics. In general, this whole song feels like a notes app rant. It’s raw, and it’s painful, and that’s why it’s in my top three.

“Times Square” closes out the album with a music box, dream-like quality to the sound. It has a very synth-y sound, with lyrics about life getting better. It’s the shortest song, ending at 1 minute 32 seconds and rather abruptly — like someone hanging up on you.

Melchor Lullaby Hotline Vol. 1 ripped my heart out, gave me a hug, and put me to sleep (all in that order). I enjoyed the indie/folk sound that went all throughout the album, it really drove home the idea that these songs are lullabies. Thematically, it felt a little disjointed; it’d jump from “i’m not okay,” which is a song about not being okay in a relationship, to “Lateral Move,” which is an upbeat song about loving the relationship you’re in.

All in all, I’d give Melchor Lullaby Hotline Vol. 1 an 8/10. “Start Forgetting Death,” “Best Problem,” and “itsjustmyheart (voice memo)” are the three I recommend if you’re just starting to listen to Adam Melchor, or if you want to just dip your toes into the album.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Muriel Margaret / Warner Records

Author

  • Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

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