Album review: 'Melyn' - Adwaith (2018)

Although only formed in 2015, Adwaith, the Welsh language Indie rock group has quickly achieved success in Welsh-speaking circles. Well established in parts of Wales, Adwaith may be a new name to those of you who hail from outside the land of song.

Despite being a relatively young band, both in terms of its existence and in terms of its members, Adwaith has produced a steady stream of new music since the release of their debut album Melyn in 2018. Now three years old, Melyn may still be new to those of you who aren’t familiar with Welsh language music.

A far cry from earlier Welsh language tracks such as ‘Yma o Hyd, Adwaith and their album Melyn represent the new and exciting world of modern welsh language music. This thirty-eight-minute, fifteen-track album engages with earlier styles of rock and develops them into a current soundscape for the Welsh music scene.

The opening track of the album, simply titled ‘Intro’, exemplifies the hybridity that characterises Adwaith’s music. The beginning few seconds of the track suggests an Avant-garde, Genesis-esque Prog Rock vibe, but this swiftly dissolves into another musical snapshot resembling the drum heavy openings of a Beastie Boy’s track. The intro continues to pass through shorts varying musical snapshots that act as an overture for the music to come but also alludes to earlier styles. The introduction seamlessly falls into the first full track on the album ‘Lipstick Coch’. The musical snapshots weren’t abandoned as we enter the first full track, with the 80s style sawtooth synth bass carving an upbeat yet striking bassline that is reminiscent of Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’.

As the album continues the musical hybridity that characterises much of the album becomes more present, with the mixture of influences and styles oozing from each of this album’s pores. ‘Fel i Fod’, one of the tracks from the album later released as a single, is one of the bigger tracks that underpin the narrative of this album. During this track the intimacy and experimentalism of the album becomes less evident as a broader more uplifting musical environment is explored. Reminiscent of the rock music of the early twen-teens. The opening calm of the track is comparable with that of 30 seconds to Mars’ ‘Kings and Queens’. ‘Fel i Fod’ is almost a welcome interloper in the narrative of this album, a track that seems both completely foreign but also entirely at home in this setting, acting as a tranquil refrain from the introspective and experimental outlook of the album’s other tracks.

Aside from its ‘inter-musicality’ this album flits between the main, outward looking tracks to the intimate and experimental interludes. ‘Yn fy Mhen’ (meaning 'in my head') presents one of the Prog Rock throwbacks this album utilises to force a state of active listening. This and the preceeding track ‘O Dan y Haenau’ (which is like Blondie on acid) move the listener into a spatial and immersive soundscape.

Adwaith’s musicality throughout this album is exceptional. You would be hard pressed to find moments where their musicianship is under question. The musicianship on offer is a real treat, with each of the band’s members providing a cornerstone of their character. The precision of the band is helped massively by the unrelenting brilliance of the kit throughout the album, with Heledd Owen displaying an ease in shifting seamlessly between tempi and styles. Gwenllian Anthony similarly performs with interest and dexterity. The vocals throughout the album are truly special, Hollie Singer (possibly born for this role?) captures the essence of the band’s sound, displaying both a keen ability in singing closely and intimately but also easily opening up to a more expansive register.

All in all, I would wholeheartedly recommend this album. Moreover, I would, to an even greater extend, urge you to go and listen to all that Adwaith has to offer. In every respect I would suggest, that even if you don’t speak or understand Welsh, there is a plethora of great things on offer through this album. The originality they achieve through hybridity is truly magical, an ear-opening experience.

Listen to more from Adwaith here

Listen to more Welsh language music here

Jonathan Davies, March 2021

Jonathan has also written:

The Mask of Orpheus: The ENO Issue

What's Wrong with Isolde? A Feminist Critique of Wagner

Conlon Nancarrow / Studies for Player Piano (1948-1992)

Keeping it Gay: Are Stereotypes Still Okay?

Intertextuality in The Nightmare Before Christmas

Hearing an Othered Wales



Want to make a difference to the arts during these tough times? You can either donate an amount of your choice or become a patron on Patreon for as little as £2/month!